The Decatur County School System wants to raise awareness of the growing number of homeless students in the county.
The number of homeless students in the Decatur County school system continues to rise; from 53 kids in 2012, to 94 kids by the end of 2014. And the number is only expected to increase.
"The face of homeless students is much different than we imagined," said Kathy Varner.
It's an issue of which many people in the county are unaware. "Most people feel like homelessness is that you live under a bridge, or you live in a box, or you live in your car," said Debbie Jones. "But here, homelessness is living doubled up. Living with people because you don't have any place else to go. You don't have a job to support your family."
Federal law requires school systems to remove barriers to the enrollment and retention of students in the country legally who don't have permanent homes.
"We're allowing them to enroll immediately. We help them with the documentation. And then we try to help them with the things that they need to be able to be in school every single day," said Varner.
Over the past three years Decatur County has gotten grants to provide school supplies, meals, hygiene products, and clothing for these students. But that money runs out soon.
And while the school system plans to apply for another grant, they rely heavily on community support.
"To know that somebody cares about you, that plants a seed in them to be able to help somebody else later on down the line," said Jones.
The school system is now collecting money and gifts for the students' Christmas lists. For more information on how you can donate, contact Decatur County Schools.