I began working for the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD) in April of 2014. I wear many hats, but one of them is to act as a consultant with our school districts to assist local homeless students through our MISD Homeless Education Project. It is a mission of the MISD to help our school districts support the needs of students who are homeless.
Did you know that during the 2015-2016 school year, 1,618 homeless students were identified in Macomb County?
Each local district and charter school, under federal law, must have a homeless liaison. This person is responsible for educating district personnel on identification of homeless students and making sure the students are provided support to succeed academically. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act defines a student as homeless when they lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. This includes those living in shelters, motels, cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard housing or sharing the housing of others due to a loss of housing, economic hardship or similar reasons.
The Macomb County homeless liaisons refer homeless students to the MISD. We then provide each student with a backpack, school supplies, socks, hats/gloves and hygienic items. All of the items given to students are based on donations from community and business organizations. The program runs throughout the school year.
The number of homeless children in Macomb County has increased tremendously with increasing poverty in some communities. Children who are traumatized by homelessness and poverty cherish receiving new backpacks and school supplies. I have received wonderful feedback from the district liaisons. For example, I was told recently that a 6-year-old girl was overjoyed to receive a Barbie backpack filled with new school supplies. Shouldn’t every child have the resources they need to succeed in school?
Right now, Toys“R”Us and the MISD are sponsoring a Stuff-A-Bus fundraiser to support the Homeless Education Project. At this time in particular, the donations most needed are new backpacks and school supplies. If you would like to assist, donations can be placed in boxes located throughout Toys“R”Us stores during their regular store hours until Sept. 1. Participating locations are stores in Madison Heights (32700 John R.), Roseville (32070 Gratiot) and Sterling Heights (13801 Lakeside Circle).
However, the MISD accepts donations all year. You can get involved by donating items or volunteering time to pack backpacks by contacting me, Mary Lebioda, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (586) 228-3490.
Mary Lebioda is a consultant for School Health and Related Services for the Macomb Intermediate School District.