Tag Archives: Homeless

Water, Water Everywhere and Not A Drop to Drink

“It’s easier to get free wi-fi than it is to get free water and people act like there’s nothing wrong with the world”. – Fidel Littlelight
Homeless - bottle of wather
Rick Wood gives food and water to a homeless man near his tent under an overpass near downtown Birmingham, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (abc3340.com)

Water has turned into a huge commodity. As a former retailer I can tell you that water is one of the most profit bearing items in a store.  I used to be able to get cases of water for less than $2 each (making the cost of each bottle roughly 9¢ a piece) and the suggested retail price was 99¢.  That’s a heck of a margin huh?  

In fact, have you seen a water fountain recently? Probably not.  Usually only in schools and hospitals anymore, with an occasional sighting at an office building (leftovers from days gone by).  They’re getting harder to find, aren’t they? Now imagine you’re homeless.  Where do you get a drink of water?

I understand that even if it’s within your means, many people are not comfortable handing cash to the person with the sign at the intersection and I don’t disagree.  Sadly there are scammers out there and there is no way to determine who is legit and who just figure it’s a great way to make a buck.

Shortly after I stopped living in a shelter I was back living with my parents.  My mom needed to go for a therapy appointment due to an injury, so I dropped her off and used her truck to go grocery shopping.  When I got back, there was a man in the parking lot begging for money from everyone he could find talking about how he, his wife and child were now living on the streets and hungry.  When he approached me, I let him know that I had no money but that I had just gotten done grocery shopping and walked him to the back of the truck asking if he had the means to cook and started pulling out groceries for him.  He thanked me and turned down my offering of food, then proceeded to go skittering off to the fast food drive thru next door to return to his quest for cash.

Please do not take what I’ve said as a reason to never help someone with a sign.  There are many, many needy people who need our help and cities and municipalities are really aiming to put the homeless population out of sight and out of mind.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to read my piece on the homelessness – Insights into the Dark  – I would ask you to check it out when you have a chance.

16-oz-water

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge everyone who reads this to buy a case of bottled water. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just whatever you can find at the best price, and keep it in a cooler with a little ice. As you’re driving around town doing errands and you see someone with a sign, sleeping on a piece of cardboard or a park bench or under an overpass – offer them a bottle of water.  It’s a small kindness that goes an incredibly long way.

I think a case of water at Wal-Mart is around $3.50 and at CVS you can catch it on sale for $2.  While you may not be willing to hand someone cash, offering them a bottle of water that cost you 9¢-15¢, that would cost them a dollar or more at the nearest shop is a huge help.  Can you think of any other way to help that many people for under four dollars? 

It’s a frugal way to help and it’s a great way to help your fellow-man.  Thanks for listening.  

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

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The Pain and Heartbreak of Invisible People

Today I offer you a poem and a story, and sadly neither are intended to make you smile. There are no pictures and there’s also a good chance that it will probably make you somewhat uncomfortable.   

However, uncomfortable is what leads to change. Uncomfortable is what makes us say “no more”.     I keep hoping that more people every day will become more and more uncomfortable, so they’ll look outside their comfort zone and see the need around them, and feel compelled to affect change.

Hello, my name is Anna and I’m six years old
I live with my mama and papa
They can’t always afford to feed me as often as they would like
They can’t afford to buy me clothing very often
We don’t have a house, but we have shelter sometimes
I used to have a brother but he died
I love my parents, and I know that love me too
They try so very hard
We are part of your society
a part you either don’t see or won’t see
I probably won’t be here very much longer
I just wanted to say hello

Hello my name is Anna and I’m ten years old
My daddy died, Mama says someone shot him
Mama has lots of friends, she says that’s how she pays the rent
I used to have a brother but he died too,
Mama said we couldn’t feed him anymore
I worry about my Mama she puts needles in herself
But she says” don’t worry baby God is coming for us all”
I know that I’m supposed to believe in God
and I guess I do
I just haven’t seen him in my neighborhood
Mama’s calling for me now I have to go make her lunch
anyway I just wanted to say hello

Go Ask Alice
This was published in 1971 and still brings light to the dark subject of drugs and homelessness. This book can be read here online or it can be downloaded

Hello, my name’s Anna and I’m fifteen.
I know what my mama did to raise me,
I understand now because I have a daughter now
and I call her Ella… I’d do anything to make sure that she has enough
food and clothes, but things keep getting in the way.
it’s so expensive, and they want so much from me.
I love my little girl but sometimes when she cries when she’s hungry
I just want to get away…
so I do…

Hello, My name is Ella or so I’m told,
they said that my Mama named me after my grandma,
but I never knew her
They tell they she loved me very much
but I never knew
I should have had a daddy
but they never knew
They are closing the home tomorrow
because they have no money
I ask where will I go
but nobody knows

Hello, My name is Ella and I’m 12 years old,
for as long as I can remember
I’ve been sold from pimp to pimp                                                                          for cigarettes or pool wagers or on  a whim,
I am chattel, I am worthless.
I don’t even care enough to despair

DsHello, My name is Ella
I’m a corpse under a bridge,
I’ve been here for weeks
and no one seemed to notice,
I wonder why that is
~ Anonymous

Rape is about violence, not sex.  If a person hits you with a spade, you wouldn’t call it gardening would you?

I lived with a woman named Susan in the homeless shelter I stayed in, along with her husband Dave and their daughter, April (she was 8 maybe?).  Dave had a massive stroke that left him confined to a wheelchair, having to be fed and changed, and unintelligible speak to anyone other than his wife or daughter.  In fact, everyone originally thought he was her father because he had aged so much from all that he’d been through medically.  Sadly she didn’t know enough to apply for social security.

They were a single income household and Susan stopped working when she found out that she was pregnant. They lost their home, most of their possessions, their cars.  And now Dave was an invalid who couldn’t take care of himself.    With limited skills and experience, the only place that would hire her was McDonald’s.  Susan would take care of Dave as soon as they woke up, along with getting April off to school.  Susan would leave to go to work, then when April came “home” after school, then she’d be her dad’s caretaker until Susan got “home” around midnight, walking both ways because the car they had been living in had been repossessed.

On the way “home” one night Susan was stopped by three rough looking men, one of which had been kicked out of the shelter previously for being an asshole, and he blamed her.  She had asked him to watch his mouth around her daughter and he wouldn’t and got nasty with her, so she told the guard and asked that he try to handle it.

Then he got into it with the guard and started an altercation, needless to say, he was out for good. Not necessarily a good thing in Colorado in the winter(oh well); he brought it on himself but of course he blamed everyone but himself.   So here she was, alone, walking “home” and suddenly surrounded by these three street thugs.  The one with the vendetta and two of his buddies.  They decided to drive train on her because gang-rape is a worthy punishment for asking the guard to make you stop talking in 4-letter words around someone’s young daughter.

I couldn’t sleep at night back then either so I was wide awake as always when she came in later than usual.  Her hair messed up, her uniform was a mess, dirty, ripped in places with some blood on it, and a face that was stained with tears.  We all knew something was wrong, and it wasn’t hard to tell what that something was.

We tried suggesting to her to go to the hospital to get checked out, but she refused, almost in a panic attack, saying that she couldn’t go because if they admitted her, then that would leave her 8-year-old daughter there to take care of her father, and not only was that not something she wanted to do to April.  The big problem was that because since neither April or David was self-sufficient, not only would they not be allowed to stay at the shelter, but children’s services & adult protective services could be called to take both of them away.

A couple of us asked her if they could help her get cleaned up, We all offered to help her family in her absence, I even told her that I’d drive her so that everyone wouldn’t be nosy if an ambulance showed up, but she just said,  “no, I just need to be with my family right now”. And just as Susan said, she climbed into her bunk between her daughter and her husband and cried all night.  The next morning she told David what happened, we could see it in his face when she told him. He sobbed for 3 days straight

Her pants were ripped pretty badly when she was attacked, so we all chipped in to buy her a new pair of work pants so she could still work.  By dinner time the next day, the entire shelter knew what happened. After that, the guards let a couple of the guys out each night so they could walk her home.

Lockdown was at 10, lights out at 10:30. And if you didn’t have a pre-authorized pass signed by your employer,  it didn’t matter if you had Jesus himself with you for backup, and you *still* weren’t getting in.  The guards couldn’t leave while they were on duty but would let the (rougher) guys go out every night passed lockdown so they could go get her and bring her back. And the guys all took turns, this way if anyone was watching they’d know that there were more than two guys backing her up.

Sunday night was something that well all looked forward to.  That’s when we all went to Church in Manitou Springs, where they served dinner… real food, not the crap we were used to.  You had to be there on time because they only had so many portions.  The soup kitchen in town had those big giant pots, and if they had a significant amount left, it went into tomorrow’s meal, but not at the church in Manitou Springs.  It was good food, sometimes it was the only good thing that happened to us for the whole week.

I still had my car,  a small Chevette knockoff.  I would earn gas money from people to take them places. On Sunday nights it was great because I was always guaranteed to get three guys in the back seat, with me & my boyfriend up front with me. They all gave me $5 each and gas was still 99¢ a gallon back then so it was a great income for someone who couldn’t find a job.  I also did it for the ones who went to the plasma center during the week because they were not up to walking back.   I lost my job because they found out that I was living in the shelter so this was the only money I was making, by being a taxi to my fellow “shelter rats” (as we were called).

Anyway, we all were sitting down with our plates…  it was loud, filled with happy talk because of a real meal and a change of scenery, dishes, silverware, and glasses all clanking and banging. The pastor would have everyone bow their heads and he’d say grace then we could eat. Well he said grace, we dug in and within a few minutes, you could hear a pin drop.

“…and then the angels of justice and mercy came for Susan.”

It was about a month after Susan was attacked and the three guys that raped her made the mistake of coming into the Church basement for dinner. The two guys behind him knew their world was going to change when they turned around to leave and there were two guys barring the door. The leader, I don’t remember his name from 31 years ago, but I do remember his face. He was the blackest person I’d ever seen. Skin the color of espresso, the only thing that gave him away in the dark was his teeth and his eyes.  He was wearing a black leather jacket and black pants which gave away how he got around at night (like a ninja) and on his shoulder a heavy chain with a metal padlock on it.

The pastor came out and asked what was going on and one of the guys told him. He looked at those three, grossly outnumbered and said, “I’m sorry we’re full and there’s no more to eat” (which was true) but elicited a very forceful no.  The pastor told him “Well then, I’m sure the boys will you help you find the way to your car.”  The guy spoke up telling the Pastor that he didn’t have a car. So the pastor glossed over his response and said “God doesn’t care if you have a car or not, he cares about *other* things like how you live, how you treat people, and so on.  Boys, If you wouldn’t mind, could you please take these late-comers out to their car, I have to go check on dessert.”

They hadn’t even made it out of the basement when everything jumped off. He rolled his shoulder to drop the chain to put it in his hand but it got snatched away from him while his face stopped someone’s fist from running away. The guy who grabbed the chain from him swung it…

I was “caught staring with the dumb look” (as we used to call it.)  I’d never seen a cheekbone before, or any bone for that matter (other than watching Deliverance, but it was not the same.)  I was just completely stunned at just how white it was, but that was of course in contrast with the espresso colored skin and the bright red blood that was now going everywhere. The next blast was a right hook that cold-cocked him.  It was at that point when he was dragged out into the parking lot and his friends (who were still conscious at least) took off.  When thug #1 came to a couple of minutes later, he was freaking out about how he got there and the amount of blood ( a bit dazed don’t you know) and he got his ass kicked. He suddenly came to his senses, stood up and then took off as quickly as he could like his friends did.

Our guys came back in just as the pastor came out, who took one look at them and said “boys, it was very nice of you to help those gentlemen with their car trouble, but you’ve all gotten so dirty, you need to all come in the kitchen and wash up all of you, you need to be presentable for dinner.” (read: Just in case the police showed up.)

I was there for another couple of months but that guy was never seen around town ever again to my brief knowledge.

I really do hope that Susan and David, along with their daughter April were able to move on and move up. I hope they were given access to the services they needed to survive and with any luck, they were able to get help for all that they had endured. 

So, why did I tell you this long-winded story you ask? 

The reason for this is to use light to see those who are in the shadows, to see those who are normally invisible to the population as a whole.  The homeless are a large part of our country’s landscape as well abroad.  We see the pictures of the homeless during the Great Depression.  People standing in lines a block long.  People living in tents We don’t see that, just the occasional person standing at an intersection with a cardboard sign, we don’t see them.  So if there is such a homeless problem, where are they?  Why don’t they look the same?  Easy, back then are programs now like SNAP, Welfare, and WIC that didn’t exist back then.  There were no homeless shelters, just people living in Hoovervilles.  No food pantries, no soup kitchens per say, there were soup lines (the  bonus there was you could fill a soup pot up so that you could feed your children, and bread lines.  Can you imagine?

The problem is that these people along with myself at the time and even now as a disabled person, is that we are/were invisible. I swear, I would love 10 acres of land, cover it with tiny houses, solar panels on every roof, mandatory recycling, a place in the middle with a laundry room and hot showers (just in case you’re too tall or just fluffy like me), wifi for the community, since nowadays places will only take applications online. A community center with a couple of computers for kids to do homework, gather up books for a take a book/leave a book library, the same goes for DVD’s and we would have weekend gatherings so you could get to know your neighbors and further know that you’re not alone, you’re not the only person that this has happened to and you just have to get up, dust yourself off. And they’d all have to pitch in taking care of the community…. emptying trash, raking leaves or cutting grass or shoveling snow, helping someone with a handyman project, etc and with the goal that this is temporary, you get your life back together or create a new one and you move up and let that tiny house help out the next person or couple in need.

Well if anyone has an extra $150K lying around and can’t think of what to do with it, give me a call…

In the meantime, thanks for listening and please, don’t have invisible people surround you. Look for them and you’ll see.  And once you see, you’ll have them in your heart and want to help

Joy is the Greatest Blessing of All

When I tell people that I lived in a homeless shelter, the knee-jerk reaction is almost always an immediate “I’m sorry!” And tell them “Why? I’m not”, which usually puts them in just enough shock so as to listen.

Living in the shelter, I regard as one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. I had nothing, they had nothing. And yet I had friends who had my back and not because they could get something from me, or get somewhere because of me, etc.

To experience that much honesty is so overwhelming and it has changed me forever. It was then that I stopped caring about doing what other people wanted or working for other people’s attention or acceptance (emotionally abusive marriage aside) because I could see the price tag of one’s actions.  It is for those reasons that I found a way to reach out and help others, it is my motivation to not only feel but also share those feelings.

I am blessed to have 5 best friends along with Kid. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these relationships are honest and that we want nothing from or for each other but love and happiness. I know of no other blessings in life that are more valuable than these.

 

These last 7 years have been harder than I can put into words, but there is still the blessing of the friendships I have, the support they have given me, and after wading through the muck finding myself again and realizing my own self-worth. There is no greater blessing.

It is my personal belief that happiness is fleeting, joy is forever.  It marks your heart, it warms you in a cold world.  Happiness is a pay raise or going to a concert or having dinner with friends.  Joy is the love you feel from others, it is the love you have for your children, your family of friends, etc.  It is the feeling that “I’m going to be okay” in a devastating situation.  Joy is the permanent marks on your heart and soul that heals you, that warms you to the core, that keeps you going and can make you smile in a room by yourself when you think about and feel those moments all over again because they are permanently attached to your soul.

Joy is the permanent marks on your heart and soul that heals you, that warms you to the core, that keeps you going and can make you smile in a room by yourself when you think about and feel those moments all over again because they are permanently attached to your soul.

It is the feeling that “I’m going to be okay” in a devastating situation. It’s a person of faith’s feeling the love and serenity of their God.  Joy is the permanent marks on your heart and soul that heals you, that warms you to the core, that keeps you going and can make you smile in a room by yourself when you think about and feel those moments.

Maggie 

Dedicated to Matthew, Cheri, Dani, Steph, Bonna & Kid.  I wouldn’t be here today without all of you.

Think You Know Who They Are?

You might want to take another look…

 

 

Homelessness does not discriminate. If you can help, please do. If you think you’re safe, check again and make sure.

 

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Water, Water Everywhere and Not A Drop to Drink

“It’s easier to get free wi-fi than it is to get free water and people act like there’s nothing wrong with the world”. – Fidel Littlelight
Homeless - bottle of wather
Rick Wood gives food and water to a homeless man near his tent under an overpass near downtown Birmingham, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (abc3340.com)

Water has turned into a huge commodity. As a former retailer I can tell you that water is one of the most profit bearing items in a store.  I used to be able to get cases of water for less than $2 each (making the cost of each bottle roughly 9¢ a piece) and the suggested retail price was 99¢.  That’s a heck of a margin huh?  

In fact, have you seen a water fountain recently? Probably not.  Usually only in schools and hospitals anymore, with an occasional sighting at an office building (leftovers from days gone by).  They’re getting harder to find, aren’t they? Now imagine you’re homeless.  Where do you get a drink of water?

I understand that even if it’s within your means, many people are not comfortable handing cash to the person with the sign at the intersection and I don’t disagree.  Sadly there are scammers out there and there is no way to determine who is legit and who just figure it’s a great way to make a buck.

Shortly after I stopped living in a shelter I was back living with my parents.  My mom needed to go for a therapy appointment due to an injury, so I dropped her off and used her truck to go grocery shopping.  When I got back, there was a man in the parking lot begging for money from everyone he could find talking about how he, his wife and child were now living on the streets and hungry.  When he approached me, I let him know that I had no money but that I had just gotten done grocery shopping and walked him to the back of the truck asking if he had the means to cook and started pulling out groceries for him.  He thanked me and turned down my offering of food, then proceeded to go skittering off to the fast food drive thru next door to return to his quest for cash.

Please do not take what I’ve said as a reason to never help someone with a sign.  There are many, many needy people who need our help and cities and municipalities are really aiming to put the homeless population out of sight and out of mind.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to read my piece on the homelessness – Insights into the Dark  – I would ask you to check it out when you have a chance.

16-oz-water

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge everyone who reads this to buy a case of bottled water. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just whatever you can find at the best price, and keep it in a cooler with a little ice. As you’re driving around town doing errands and you see someone with a sign, sleeping on a piece of cardboard or a park bench or under an overpass – offer them a bottle of water.  It’s a small kindness that goes an incredibly long way.

I think a case of water at Wal-Mart is around $3.50 and at CVS you can catch it on sale for $2.  While you may not be willing to hand someone cash, offering them a bottle of water that cost you 9¢-15¢, that would cost them a dollar or more at the nearest shop is a huge help.  Can you think of any other way to help that many people for under four dollars? 

It’s a frugal way to help and it’s a great way to help your fellow-man.  Thanks for listening.  

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

No More Invisible People

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I’m very passionate about homelessness.

Several of my previous blog posts have touched on the subject, but Insights into the Dark  and Water, Water Everywhere got in-depth on this issue.  Having spent time on the streets and in a shelter for a thankfully only a brief time, was enough to permanently open my eyes and my heart to a situation that will never go away but can be lessened with compassion, understanding and organization.

Once again I found myself getting very angry seeing news reports out of London where the current trend is putting  spikes in areas where homeless people may seek shelter.

A picture shows short metal spikes designed to stop homeless people sleeping outside the entrance of a residential building in south London on June 10, 2014 (AFP Photo/Carl Court)
A picture shows short metal spikes designed to stop homeless people sleeping outside the entrance of a residential building in south London on June 10, 2014 (AFP Photo/Carl Court)

Their mayor has distanced himself from the issue so as to not appear anti-homeless people and not anger voters at the same time.

It’s bad enough that legislators and law enforcement want to keep the homeless out of sight, but because most folks have been seeing this for so long, they don’t even notice anymore.  It’s not that they’ve turned an intentional blind eye but now we’re so conditioned that we have to force ourselves to look.

Research has shown that it’s cheaper to house the homeless than allow them to stay on the streets.  The Orlando Sentinel published an article recently where their research into the situation found that it costs Florida taxpayers $31,000 per person between criminalization and hospitalization.  It’s calculated that it costs $21,000 MORE per person for these people to be homeless than housed!  Incredible!  It’s not often that fiscal responsibility and social responsibility wind up on the same side of the argument, so why aren’t we fixing this?

The most chronically homeless are the mentally ill which are why hospitalization is chronically incurred.  It’s been this way since the 80’s with President Reagan’s  budget changes in mental health funding.  There’s plenty of articles out there if you want to read more about it, here’s one from Salon that rather in-depth entitled Ronald Reagan’s Shameful Legacy.  It gives a really comprehensive look at the timeline of events.

When the mentally ill are on the streets, un-medicated, unsupervised, their condition worsens to an alarming level.  People who could live fairly normal lives with a little guidance and supervision wind up on the streets and stay there as their conditions and lives deteriorate.

Thanks to the collapse of the housing market we have more empty homes in this country since it’s inception with entire communities becoming virtual ghost towns.   I recently read this article about how Detroit is selling off abandoned properties at lower prices than used cars, just to get people in them and get their communities going again.

I was delighted today however to read this uplifting article about a group called 100,000 homes.  They are a grassroots group that are working with various communities to house the homeless.  Their four-year campaign to complete the goal of housing 100,000 homeless people was not only reached but exceeded!  101,628 people were housed and they’re just getting started.

Check out 100,000 Homes website to find out what’s going on in your area and what you can do to help or to get help for someone you care about.  It’s these groups that gather and give us hope.  The problem isn’t too far gone and it’s not too overwhelming.

The majority of family, friends and neighbors live paycheck to paycheck and it’s estimated that 75% of our citizens maintain little or no savings.  The loss of a job, a series of extra expenses like medical bills and car repairs can throw someone into a spiral that they can’t get out of alone.

So I’m asking…  Please look.  Please help.  Everyone out there is someone’s son or daughter, Aunt or Uncle, Mom or Dad.  Help their family as you would hope someone would help yours.  Even if it’s the courtesy and respect of eye contact.

 

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Update:  Just as I was getting ready to publish this, I was blessed and overjoyed to find this amazing bit of news.  This is the best news I’ve heard in a long, long time! Watch the video below & enjoy!

Our Future Needs Help

Homeless child at soup kitchen, Her family was living out of a car.
Homeless child at soup kitchen, Her family was living out of a car. Taken June 2008

I was reading an article entitled  “The 10 Worst States for Student Homelessness“.  It is a very well written and enlightening piece that encourage you to take the time to read.  In it, it offers a link to the Dept of Ed’s report citing the actual statistics per state for the 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years.  Numbers are not complete for the current school year since it has not completed.

California tops out at 21.3% of their students are homeless!  New York comes in 2nd at 8.3% and Texas at 8.1%. This is positively horrifying!  These numbers are a representation of the total students statewide.  The majority of the homeless are in urban areas.  So what are the percentages in those inner city classrooms?

How can we expect children to succeed with so much working against them?  How can teachers teach effectively when children are worried about where their next meal is coming from, do they have a safe place to go after school and where they will sleep tonight?

It’s hard enough to maintain employment when you are homeless,  I know first hand.  If you haven’t read my post “Insights Into the Dark” please check it out.

Personally I’d really love to see the statistics of absenteeism rates for homeless vs housed students.  I know how hard it was for kids in the shelter that I stayed at to attend school, but at least they had somewhere to be picked up and dropped off from.  Unfortunately it was in the middle of the bus route so everyone knew exactly where they lived.

Imagine the family that is rotating between friends and relatives, a night or two in each place; or the family who is staying in their car or worse yet outdoors.

Here’s a video from an episode of Ellen that is from September 2011.  It’s about an amazing lady named Sherrie Gahn who is the principal of an elementary school in Las Vegas.  Well instead of me telling you, watch it and we’ll talk more…

Gave you chills right?  I know it did for me and a lot of other people.  It’s pretty overwhelming.  Sherrie Gahn is working miracles and thankfully she got some huge help.  In fact, after this show aired, Justin Bieber personally donated $100,000 to the school.  That being said, that’s just one elementary school.

You heard her numbers… 85% on free or reduced lunch, a large portion of them are homeless, even though the statistics for the state of Nevada list the reported homeless students at 0.9 %.   Less than one percent, yet that much poverty.

So what is it like for kids and teachers in LA, living in a state that reports it has approximately 53,000 members of their students are homeless?  Or New York with over eight thousand students that are homeless?  And that’s just homeless.  That doesn’t consider those living in poverty that have managed to retain a roof over their heads.

As a parent, I know how much I was required to provide for my child when she was in school.  I don’t think there’s a school around that doesn’t rely on at least 2 or more fundraisers to help them make ends meet each year.  None of those fundraisers are even designed to cover the out of pocket costs being covered by teachers.  For the schools dealing with this much poverty, where does the fundraising come from?  Certainly not parents.  So the schools do without, putting an added financial burden on already stretched parents.  How many children would you guess have all the tools they need to succeed?  I’m going to guess not enough.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, approximately 19.6 million children received free or reduced lunches in the 2011-2012 school year.  During that same school year there were a total of 952,281 homeless students (reported).  So the homeless only (roughly) represent half of the children living at or below poverty incomes.  As you can see, there many, many children that need help.

While it’s easy to throw up our hands, note that it’s an overwhelming problem or just simply say not my kid/not my problem, the fact is… it is your problem, and mine, and everyone else’s.  You see these kids are going to be adults that need to become teachers, lawyers, doctors, and everything else we need to make our society function.   They will be taking care of you and me as time marches on.  As the song says, our children are our future.  We need to take care of them now so they can take care of us later.

Please consider participating in a local supply drive or even creating one.  Talk to your local schools, churches, community centers or even your employer to find out who they help and when so that you may participate.  My employer does school supply drives twice a year in addition to food drives, clothing drives, etc.

You can also contact one of the following organizations to help as well.  If you are in need please contact the same resources for assistance.

The Kids in Need Foundation
This foundation distributes supplies to 2.4 million students annually. While they do not donate directly, through a national network of Resource Centers, teachers can get free supplies for their students in need.  The foundation also distributed items through community backpack and supplies giveaway programs throughout the country.  For communities without its Resource Centers, community organizations often provide supplies to local students by conducting backpack giveaways through the foundation.  Go to http://www.kinf.org/ for more information on applying to receive support for a school, or to donate.
 Boys & Girls Club of America
Boys & Girls Clubs of America host a national supply drive, called Tools for Back-to-School, through an online play-to-give game and in-store support at retailers across the nation. These supplies, as well as supplies donated by their partners, Disney, Michaels, and Staples, are delivered directly to local Boys & Girls Clubs. Families can contact their local Boys & Girls Club for more information on back-to-school support. To find your local club visit http://www.greatfutures.org and click Find A Club.
 AdoptAClassroom.org
AdoptAClassroom.org is a national, nonprofit organization whose goal is to make sure that all children have access to a quality education. They start by supporting classroom teachers, and since 1998 have raised over $18 million for classrooms across the country. Through this program, teachers are able to make purchases to enrich their classrooms, and students benefit. To support a classroom, visithttp://www.adoptaclassroom.org.
 The Give with Target Program
The retail chain will donate $5 million to schools across the country to help ensure that students and teachers have the supplies they need to start the new year. From now through September 21, guests can cast their vote for a school of their choice by visiting Target’s Facebook page. Once a school has received 25 votes, Target will donate $1 per vote, with a (maximum donation of $10,000 per school). The cash donation will provide schools with undesignated funds to purchase the materials their students and teachers need most. For more info, visit http://givewith.target.com/.

As always friends, thanks for listening and letting me share.

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie