I Am Waters Foundation

Today is 09.28.2016

Nearly 100 Homeless Seniors Set To Graduate | Bartow , Florida | The Ledger

With graduation dates fast approaching, officials with Polk County Schools have launched their annual effort to raise funds and materials for the district’s homeless seniors set to graduate.

About 100 homeless students are expected to cross the stage this year, a number comparable with years before, officials said.

“We really just got started,” said Lorrie Prince, a speech pathologist for the district. “The things we can’t purchase through the Polk County Schools we’re going to have to ask the community for this year.”

That list can include any number of items, but Prince said she’s looking to the community for donations for bus passes, gift cards and rolls of quarters. Officials said a timely donation by the Polk Sheriff’s Charities and leftover hygiene products from last year have given the effort a boost.

Officials have pointed to the economic recession as the root of many situations in which families find themselves without a home.

According to statistics from the Hearth Project, which partners with the school system in aiding homeless students, nearly 70 percent of homeless students live in homes with families doubled and tripled up. The other 30 percent live in shelters, empty lots, cars and motels, said Dee Dee Wright, coordinator of the Hearth Project.

Wright said the school system identifies about 100 homeless students a month. Last year, they listed 2,453 students. So far this year, they’ve identified 2,061, with more added every week, she said.

HOW TO GIVE

People interested in donating toiletry items for homeless students or to adopt an anonymous student may contact Lorrie Prince at 1-863-534-0930 or by email at lorrie.prince@polk-fl.net.