School supplies needed for homeless students in Washtenaw County
While families are shopping and taking advantage of back to school savings, employees at The Education Project, based within the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, or WISD, hope families will think about the many homeless students in the county who also need school supplies.
"We especially need backpacks," said Peri Stone-Palmquist, program manager for the project, which helps homeless youth. "Sturdy backpacks are best, and kids love the ones with characters on them. We also need colored pencils and markers, calculators, Scientific if possible, as well as zippered pencil pouches and pencil sharpeners."
Stone-Palmquist said new packages of socks and underwear and toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and travel-sized shampoo also are needed because supplies at their headquarters are running low.
From now through Aug. 26, the community can donate school supplies at local United Bank and Trust branches, SOS Community Services at 101 S. Huron St., in Ypsilanti, the Salvation Army at 100 Arbana Dr., in Ann Arbor, and at the Ozone House at 1705 Washtenaw Ave., in Ann Arbor. Donations can be made year-round near the front desk of the Teaching and Learning Center at the WISD, 1819 Wagner Road, in Ann Arbor.
During the 2011-2012 school year, close to 1,300 children and youth in Washtenaw County experienced a homeless or temporary living situation, a 40 percent increase from the year before. The program is grant-funded and helps homeless students from all 10 school districts and public school academies in the county enroll, attend and succeed in school.
Stone-Palmquist attributes the increased number of homeless youth in Washtenaw County to higher rates of poverty, housing costs, and unemployment.
"The face of who we're working with is very diverse," she said. "It makes these students feel more a part of the school experience if they have the supplies. It allows them to do the work they need to do where ever they are staying at the time."
More information about The Education Project can be found here. Anyone with questions about housing needs can call Housing Access for Washtenaw County at 734-961-1999.