ANDERSON, SC (WSPA)–Hundreds of students in Anderson are experiencing homelessness, especially during the pandemic.
Anderson School District Five said homelessness in students is a real thing. It’s a problem they’re seeing across the state. The district said they’re doing everything they can to tackle this issue, even during the holiday season. School district representatives also said they’re welcoming any help from the community with donations.
When you think of homelessness, images of children typically don’t come to mind.
“It can be anywhere from doubled or tripled up is what we call it. And they’re sleeping on couches and sharing space with other families or friends,” said Lisa Butler, Mckinney- Vento Homeless Education & Foster Care Liaison, at Anderson School District Five.
Approximately 200 students in Anderson School District Five are experiencing this, and representatives said there’s likely a lot more.
“The numbers are starting to increase because of all of the services that were put out there for the pandemic have gone away,” Butler said. “Since evictions have started back, maybe they’ve gotten behind because they’ve loss their jobs because of COVID or whatever situation. The lack of food, because of course, no job, no food. Any kind of situation with transportation or things like that,” she added.
They see students living in hotels, cars, tents, or neglected. The latest South Carolina State of Homelessness Report, shows during the 2017-2018 school year–12,600 public school students experience this, and 5,782 students were from the Upstate. This was the highest number in the entire state.
“We had no idea that, there were this many kids in our immediate communities that were in need. So we said we have to do something,” said Pastor John Davis, Shiloh Baptist Church.
Davis said they plan to deliver hot cooked meals to roughly 300 students on Thanksgiving Day. They’ve been partnering with the district for three years.
“In an hour and a half, we would assemble 300 plates. We will get routes ready and begin to take those right to the family of those who are in need…take it to their doorstep, if they have a doorstep or to their car if they live in a car or some that are completely homeless,” Davis said.
They also plan to feed the elderly population and students from other districts, as well. They will start assembling plates at 8:30 a.m. from the church in Starr.
“We’re blessed people and we’ve got to remember there are people who are not. There are people who don’t have these everyday blessings that we do, so this is so huge for us on a day that we say we’re grateful and thankful for the blessings of this past year, to remember those who don’t have,” Davis said.
So as you feast on your favorite dish during the holiday or shop for Christmas, remember there are children in need.
“When you’re shopping and you’re filling your buggy full, remember there’s somebody whose buggy is empty,” Davis said.
Butler said they are providing necessities to as many students possible, but they could always use more assistance, especially during the holidays.
“If there are meals they’d like to give or gift cards for restaurants to feed the families, anything that you would need, they would need. Anything is appreciated. Maybe a warm coat or it could be a meal. So anything they feel like they would like to give, we will pass along to the needy families,” Butler said.
“It’s just hard times right now, and everybody is struggling and if you want to reach out and help someone in this time of need, we’re here to help you help people. We always say the students are always the victims, no matter what the parents do or don’t do, so we’re here to make sure we remove those barriers for the children so they can be successful,” Butler added.
Anderson School District Five also said, Healthy Blue will provide 25 uncooked turkeys for needy families. The district plans to give those out the day before Thanksgiving.
To see how you can donate to the district, call their office at (864) 260-5000 (10154), or visit their website.
If you would like to assist Shiloh Baptist Church on Thanksgiving Day call, (864) 224-4300.