A group is trying to help hundreds of homeless children get a good start to the upcoming school year. About a dozen members of the AT&T Pioneers Charlotte Council packed book bags filled with school supplies Tuesday morning. They will help kids with A Child’s Place.

Kacyn Neu is helping to stuff 500 backpacks to go to homeless children in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

“I’m handing the backpacks and unzipping them, so it makes it easier for the assembly line,” said Neu.

Every week during the school year, she eats lunch with second graders from A Child’s Place.

“You see that a lot at the lunch table. ‘What did you get for Christmas? What did you get for your birthday? What are you doing this weekend?’ And a lot of the times, you see the kids be a little more quiet when they really have nothing to distribute or nothing to say,” said Neu.

This year, there are 4,922 identified homeless kids in CMS, a 4.5-percent increase from last year.

“Every year we’re seeing an increase. There are no…the trend keeps going up,” said Laurie Schwartz, development director for A Child’s Place.

Schwartz says these backpacks are a huge help for the kids.

“First of all, they get to walk into the classroom ready to learn. They get to walk into the classroom with new items just like all the other kids,” said Schwartz.

She says these school supplies shows them they are important, and gives them the confidence they need to succeed in school.

“Being homeless tends to create a sense of alienation within children. They don’t feel like all the other kids, even though they might look like all the other kids, they don’t feel like them. So being able to blend in, having the items like the other children, is huge,” said Schwartz.

National statistics show less than 25-percent of homeless children graduate from high school. Schwartz, says this gives them a better shot at breaking that cycle.

“Something as simple as progressing to the next grade gets them that little bit closer to graduating from high school and getting a better shot at a good school,” said Schwartz.

A Child’s Place will still need many more school supplies for their clients. If you’d like to learn how you can help, go to http://www.achildsplace.org/.

From News 14 Carolina, July 24, 2012

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