Carson City residents on Nov. 13 attended the Warm Coats for Kids event, an effort between the Carson City School District’s McKinney-Vento program, For Kids Foundation and Food for Thought for adults and children to select winter coats donated by Macy’s and Soles4Souls. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)
A recent coat drive to help students in transition and families in need assisted in the distribution of approximately 1,000 coats, 2,000 pairs of socks and 1,000 board games, lip balm and other items for those in the Carson City School District’s McKinney-Vento program.
The Warm Coats for Kids event Nov. 13, a collaborative effort between McKinney-Vento, the For Kids Foundation based in Reno and Food for Thought in Carson City, received donations from Macy’s and Soles4Souls to help students and adults in need. Participants chose winter coats and other items in a drive-through manner at the Food for Thought location at 3246 N. Carson St.
Christie Perkins, CCSD’s special projects coordinator, had informed the school board during a larger update Nov. 9 that the third annual Warm Coats drive would draw families prior to the holiday season. She shared parents would be able to select coats for themselves and their own children as young as 18 months old Nov. 13.
To date as of this school year, there have been 238 students who qualify for aid after having completed the necessary paperwork through the McKinney-Vento and lack a fixed, regular nighttime residence or who live in foster care. Each student or parent with a student residency questionnaire (SRQ) form on file answers whether they lack regular nighttime residence and whether they are an unaccompanied youth.
As of November, there are now 210 students who remain active in the district, Perkins reported to the school board, because 28 students already have moved out of the area. Some were wildfire victims who the district agreed to enroll temporarily to offer them stability for a few days or a few weeks but ultimately ended up withdrawing. Other families were not able to secure a strong source of income or housing and ended up moving out of state, she said.
Perkins said of that total 210 for this month, 149 students are doubled up with other family members, 51 are living in a hotel or motel, six are in a shelter and four are unsheltered. Also among this 210, 19 of these youth are unaccompanied, living with friends, boyfriends or girlfriends or a person who is not a legal guardian and enrolled themselves, with most being juniors or seniors or one who is a freshman.
While the numbers fluctuate, Perkins said with the help of social workers the district has gone through the families and verified they have secure housing and reach out to families and make sure they are flagged as McKinney-Vento.
So it makes partnerships with local nonprofits such as For Kids and Food for Thought essential. As of July, Perkins said the program has received more than $4,000 in fiscal or physical donations that go back to the students’ needs. She added McKinney-Vento also works with Carson City’s Classy Seconds, providing vouchers for middle and high school students to choose their own clothing, and they always hear positive feedback from that.
Annie Goni-Stewart, executive director of For Kids, said her organization works to help kids with resources that might be a little harder to find elsewhere. For Kids has been in existence for about 19 years.
“We’re super excited to partner with these guys,” Goni-Stewart said of the district and Food for Thought. “(A child) is usually referred by a dentist, an eye doctor or a professional or someone who knows that child has another need or a school counselor. When we get a request, we ask for substantiation and we need to see a letter by professional who has been working with a child to substantiate that request to see there’s a genuine need.”
Trustee Richard Varner praised the efforts of McKinney-Vento and local programs in the area helping all of the community’s children in transition.
“It breaks my heart to think we have someone living in car,” Varner said.
Holiday with a Hero, the event that allows students to shop with Carson City law enforcement, military or store representatives for Christmas gifts for family members, takes place this year on Dec. 15.
For information about related events, visit www.holidaywithahero.com.