Aug 11, 2010 7:02 PM by Kate Mundy
Thousands of homeless kids are headed back to school across Acadiana and your generosity is helping their education.
KATC's Tools for Schools drive ended Sunday August 8th. This week at the Vermilion Conference Center in Lafayette, the Homeless Division is being flooded with families.
Hundreds of backpacks loaded with essentials are exchanging hands. In our eight parish area, more than 3,000 kids are considered homeless. "Because we don't see it we sometimes think it's not there, but it really is," said Patsy Williams, Supervisor of the Homeless Division for area schools.
Many children are living in the area's 16 shelters for women and children, some are in motels, campgrounds or worse. "We've had two families that came in that were actually living in their car," said Williams.
KATC talked with one Lafayette mother of three who is currently out of work. Shelly Handy was thankful for any help she can get. "I'm living with a friend, a single parent and just trying to make it and trying to get out on our own and it's a struggle now, so we do have to come ask for help," said Handy.
At the homeless division, two rooms are stocked with everything a child needs this school year; glue and markers, pencils, backpacks, folders and more uniforms than a retail store. The average cost to fill a school supply list can break the bank for a family already unable to pay for housing. "It can cost anywhere from 50 to 70 dollars," said Williams.
The Homeless Division had its budget slashed by over $60,000. They're now using a federal grant to supplement the program. They cover eight parishes with $80,000, so donations are vital.
Thanks to generous viewers who saw the large black boxes at their local Wal Mart, having the essentials will not be an obstacle to success when the bell rings this year.