Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Help Stafford’s homeless students this summer

Yesterday, I offered some tips to keep the learning going over the summer. One tip was to do something good for the community.

At the end of the school year, Stafford County social workers gave away most of their food, toiletries and clothes to homeless families. The giveaway was to help families get through the summer, which is always rough for those who get help from the schools. About 360 Stafford students were identified as homeless this school year. And 48 showed up for the giveaway to get soap, shampoo, deodorant, new socks and underwear, nonperishable food, summer activities and more.  The tables were overflowing at the beginning of the event, and nearly empty at the end.

The best part? They were able to do this because of you guys–the very generous community. All of the goods were donated.

However, social workers will have more homeless families to help when school starts back in the fall. And so they’ll need your help again.

So, if you want to help Stafford County’s homeless students, here are some kid-friendly ideas that you can do this summer:

  • Hold a toiletries drive in your neighborhood. Make flyers, and invite neighbors to donate soap, shampoo, deodorant, etc. Collect those donations and give them to Stafford County Public Schools’ office of social work in mid-August.
  • Collect your extra change in a jar throughout the summer. At the end, count your pennies and buy a gift card to a grocery store or gas station, so a homeless family can buy food or drive their children to activities.
  • Open a lemonade stand (here is my favorite lemonade recipe; I skip the Vodka). Use the money to buy nonperishable food to donate to families living in motels.
  • Clean out your closets, get rid of the clothes you’ve outgrown. Donate them to the Stafford Head Start clothing closet, which gives clothes to families with children in Head Start or who are homeless.
  • When you start buying school supplies, pick up a few extra. At the end of the summer, Stafford County Public Schools usually team up with local businesses for a Stuff the Bus drive to give school supplies to families who can’t afford them.
  • Host a summer camp in your neighborhood. Here, here and here are some great ideas for how to do this. Have each camper bring a new package of underwear or socks for homeless students.

When you’ve collected your goods to donate, you can contact Keely Turner, social work coordinator for Stafford County Public Schools, to arrange to drop them off. Turner will be back in her office after Aug. 9, and you can contact her at  540/899-6213.