America is the greatest country in the world. I was born here, live here, and love it dearly. Our Statue of Liberty tells the world to ""Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Yet, there are people and children, right here in our country that are struggling… homeless… helpless… and in need. The economy over the last year has made things even worse, and even more desperate for some. And it is children who are homeless that need a voice, and need our help.
There is not a child in this world that asked to be born, yet there are 1.4 million of these blessings (homelesschildrenamerica.org) are walking the streets… sleeping in cardboard boxes and going without food. Hunger and poverty exists around the world. As Americans we have a big heart and try to help out wherever there is need. We have such a big heart sometimes we forget about some of our neighbors that may be suffering too. My heart breaks everytime I see or hear of a homeless family, and even though our family is struggling in this economy, I know there are people and children a lot worse off.
It is easy (as a society) to look at an adult that is down on their luck, possibly losing everything here in America and say that it is their own fault for where they are at. It happens every day, the person on the side of the street that is holding up a sign asking for food or money that you drive by with your windows rolled up looking the other way pretending not to see them. What do you say to the child that has nothing? I am not talking about not having an XBOX, but the essentials… clean clothes, warm food, a roof over their head.
Each and every year 1 out of every 50 kids will become homeless here in our wonderful country of America. That is on an average year; now add into that the very tough economic times our country is going through. Consider the number of parents that have or are losing their jobs… their homes… It can happen to any of us at any time. We can no longer just look at our own children and be thankful that it "isn't us," we need to do something now to help these kids.
EVERY child deserves a chance (cnn.com), and EVERY child deserves a home. Children who are homeless are more likely to suffer from emotional problems, have higher risk for health problems and are less likely to graduate from highschool… how they can have a future with these risks so high. We are bailing everyone else; it is time that we as individuals and as a nation do something to bail out these children. Consider the following facts:
- Of the over 1.4 million homeless children 42% of them are UNDER the age of 6
- African American and Native American children are disproportionately represented in the homeless children.
- Out of every 7 homeless children 1 of them has a moderate to severe health condition
- Out of more than 1.4 million homeless children of today 1.16 million of them will not graduate from highschool.
I am reminded of an old saying that was told to me when I was younger. "No matter how bad you have it, there is always someone else that has it worse." We are all struggling right now, I understand that… but anything, no matter how small it is that you can do, WILL make an impact and WILL make a difference.
There are things all of us can do to help these kids right now, without spending a fortune. Feed the Children dot org is currently running a campaign to help get backpacks to these kids so that they can go to school and have the materials they need to be a student. I know here locally, there are many organizations that are running the same type of campaign… find one in your area. Even if you go the local Dollar Store or WalMart and spend $20 on schools supplies and a backpack you will make a difference in the lives of one child. Yes, just one… but if all of us made that same effort, there would not be a child in this country without school supplies.
Feed the Children also has a caravan that is working its way through the country feeding the homeless. You can donate as little as $14 to help keep the caravan going. Fourteen or twenty dollars… which is one less stop at the drive through for your family to help make sure another child is fed and has school supplies.
Probably my favorite part of Feed the Children is the Kids Stuff Shoe Box Gift. I am working with one of the teachers at my son's middle school to have the class do this. I think it is a great way for kids to get involved with helping other kids. Here are the directions from the Feed the Children website with a link so that you can get all the information you need. Feed The Children will deliver the boxes for you.
Here's how to build your own:
- Find an empty shoe or boot box;
- Decorate the box using pens, stickers or wrapping paper;
- Please make sure to wrap the lid separately from the box;
- Fill the box with a variety of any new gift and personal care items, depending on the type of box you want to make – suggestions are below;
- On top of EACH shoe box lid, please indicate what type of box it is by adhering a label indicating "Tiny Blessings Box," "Kid's School Days Box," or "Kid's Holiday Box" (holiday boxes only accepted July through September);
- Mark the lid for a boy or girl
Here is the link to get more information on the Kids Stuff Shoe Box Gift
Please help us make a difference in the lives of these children. Work on the box with your child, explain why you are doing it. If your kids are like mine, they will be asking the neighbors for boxes and spending their allowance on items to fill the boxes.
Other Great Resources on Homeless Children in America