More than 200 Eau Claire students homeless this school year - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

More than 200 Eau Claire students homeless this school year

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - When WQOW News 18 staff heard about the unmet needs of homeless students in Eau Claire, we wanted to help. We've started a collection drive. The students, ages 6 to 18, are in need of new socks for boys and girls, sizes 11 youth to 11 adult. They're also in need of new underwear for boys and girls, sizes 4 youth to XL adult. Organizers will also take board games, card sets, activity books and coloring books, as well as prom dress and tuxedo rental donations.

You can drop donations off at our station in Eau Claire, 5545 Highway 93, during business hours. We'll pass them along to students in need through the Eau Claire Area School District's homeless program. If you have any questions, give us a call at 715-831-1824. For more information on the school district's program, click on the link on the side of this page.

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- This year when Eau Claire students leave school at the end of day, hundreds have no home of their own to go to. Friday, we're taking a closer look at that growing number of homeless students in our area.

This is what homelessness looks like for one Eau Claire family: their clothing and possessions stored in the trunk of a car.

"When our families switch locations, sometimes they can only grab a car load of stuff," says Dani Claesges, the Eau Clare Area School District Homeless Program Coordinator. "The rest will go in to storage or the rest they just don't have."

This family lost their home when the apartment building they were staying in closed, forcing them to join the dozens of homeless families in the city. Now, they live with friends.

"The typical homelessness in the Eau Claire area is one family living with another family," Claesges says. "About 20 percent of our families are in the emergencies shelters. Another 20 percent are living in hotels and motels."

The school district is seeing more and more of these cases. Right now, it knows of 212 students without homes this school year, coming from 150 families. That's around 30 more students than last year.

A federally-funded initiative works to help those students, providing necessities and allowing them focus on their studies while their home life is sorted out. The money comes from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

Part of the what the program can do is make sure a student stays at his or her school while the family may be moving around, looking for a new home. Vouchers help pay for gas to get to school.

"Whether it be transportation to get back to their school, supplies they might need or clothing or just referrals to other community agencies for the student and the family," says Claesges.

Organizers also collect toys like these for young students who lose them along with their homes.

And as more families, like this one, step forward for help, they are welcomed.

"I'd rather see those families come here and get that than to stay away and have our numbers low," Claesges says.

The program uses its funding to help families pay for gas, supplies and referrals. But one thing that money cannot be used for is clothing. That's something many students need when they lose their homes.

When WQOW News 18 staff heard about that need, we wanted to help. We've started a collection drive. The students, ages 6 to 18, are in need of new socks for boys and girls, sizes 11 youth to 11 adult. They're also in need of new underwear for boys and girls, sizes 4 youth to XL adult. Organizers will also take board games, card sets, activity books and coloring books, as well as prom dress and tuxedo rental donations.

You can drop donations off at our station in Eau Claire, 5545 Highway 93, during business hours. We'll pass them along to students in need through the Eau Claire Area School District's homeless program. If you have any questions, give us a call at 715-831-1824. For more information on the school district's program, click on the link on the side of this page.

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