As the season approaches when many people will gather with family and friends to enjoy and give thanks for their abundance, there is an often-overlooked segment of the population who will instead spend the holidays simply trying to meet their basic human needs. Rather than sharing in the bounty of food and fellowship that is common this time of year, many homeless residents in our community will focus instead on how to sustain themselves each day throughout the cold winter months.
Especially heartbreaking is the plight of children who are victims of homelessness and do not have the means or know-how to improve their situation. Nationwide, one in thirty children is identified as homeless, and data from the U.S. Department of Education shows the number of homeless children consistently growing. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to identify these children and connect them to the agencies and organizations who can provide relief and gain access to essential services.
Jackson County Schools Director of Elementary Education and Homeless Liaison Laura Dills said the school district currently has 50 students classified as homeless. She said, “In the last two years, we have averaged 108 and 115 by the end of the year. It’s a very mobile population.”
Dr. Elliott shared the burden she feels for all children who are disadvantaged. “As a mother and grandmother, it does break my heart that we have homelessness and students in dire need. I really hope the community will help us band together behind families and assist students who need a new pair of shoes; an extra snack; a warm winter coat. I don’t want any child anywhere to not have what they need.” If you would like more information about this topic, call Laura Dills at (828) 586-2311 ext. 1950.