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Homeless student population prompts clothing drive for elementary school

Compassion Highway Project, a local non-profit aimed at combating the struggles of homelessness, is working to provide needy students with basic clothing items. (KTVL/Genevieve Grippo)

Compassion Highway Project, a local non-profit aimed at combating the struggles of homelessness, is working to provide needy students with basic clothing items.

The mission comes as a result of the staggering number of homeless students reported in Jackson County.

"A lot of schools, especially elementary schools, are dealing with a lot of low income and homeless students," said Melissa Mayne, founder of Compassion Highway. "One out of 10 is homeless, and I think there's 1,200 students in Jackson County that are homeless. I think that's 200 more than last year."

Mayne said the homeless student population tends to be forgotten about, but they face every bit of hardship as their adult counterparts. As part of the organization, Compassion Highway's 'Street Team' heads out to feed the homeless community throughout the week.

It's there that Mayne said she comes face-to-face with homeless children every day.

"We see a lot of kids living in their cars. A lot of kids walk to where we're feeding to eat dinner," said Mayne. "I think a lot of people have no idea-- there is serious need right here in our little community."

Compassion Highway is trying to meet part of that need with their most recent clothing drive. Throughout the month of February, the organization is asking for new underwear, leggings and sweat pants-- essential clothing items school staff said many children are needing.

Those clothes will be delivered to low-income and homeless children at Howard Elementary. According to the Civil Rights Data Collection, over 70 percent of the school's students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

"When they don't have those items or they don't have food how are they ever going to learn," said Mayne. "Their mind isn't focused on what they should be doing, you know? They're worried about things they shouldn't have to be worried about at their age."

If you would like to help, donations can be dropped off at La Strada in the Trader Joes parking lot, or at the RRRink Skating Center.

Lularoe Laura Rosendaul is also participating in the clothing drive. If you purchase a pair of kid's leggings for Howard Elementary, she will match that by donating another pair to the school.

All donated clothes must be in new condition.


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