It may be hard to believe but by the end of school of the 2018/2019 school year year, there were 27 Homeless children in our schools! There are even more now. This is why we have partnered with the Sedona School District in hopes of making a difference in their lives. Tell the truth. Wouldn’t you want to help buy clothes for a homeless child especially one who may or may not ever have gone shopping nor made a choice as to what they wanted? It was either hand-me-downs or donation from a church or other organizations.
So that is exactly what we did. We took them shopping! You can imagine how the emotions ran high when our volunteers met at J C Penny’s to meet the school bus. Six students, ages 6 to 14 years old disembarked to open arms and huge smiles of eager ladies wanting to make their wishes come true.
The children were taken “one adult per child” on a buying spree that included a pair of jeans or pants; two shirts or blouses; a pair of shorts or a skirt; underwear, and most importantly athletic shoes. Athletic shoes rather than flats, sandals or loafers because they are not only more substantial, but also allow the students can participate in gym and other athletic activities.
A side note about J C Penny’s, they were so terrific to us! It started with opening the store an hour before the normal time. This allowed our ladies to figure out where the smaller children’s clothes were plus to locate the dressing rooms and the bathrooms. On top of that, Penny’s gave us 25% off the total bill which made our money go so much further. We cannot say enough thank you’s to Penny’s, Geovani, the manager and her staff!
As the children were checking out, a small hygiene kit was placed into their bags. It included a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and the older children got deodorant. This was a belated idea, but it was such a good one! So thanks to Cheri Baldwin who went to the Dollar Store and purchased these items. Next year, we’ll plan ahead on this because sadly, there are children that have to “share a toothbrush.” Most, if not all, of these children may never have gone to a dentist or an ophthalmologist. Our ladies deemed that three of the children, who came that Saturday, definitely needed a vision test and most likely glasses. After all, if you can’t see the board that the teacher is writing on....We’re working on this! After shopping we treated the students to lunch a McDonald's.
So what exactly is ‘home’ for these children? It can be two or more families living within one house because of loss of housing, economic hardship or similar reasons. These children have access to a bathroom and a kitchen. Some do not. Two of Sedona’s homeless families live in “dispersed” camping and have to move every 15 days, and one mother and her son live in a van. we have been assured that, for the most part, these families all have jobs but are definitely the “working poor.”
Why did we feel that this project was so important? We felt that by dressing students in new shoes and clothes, they could be more excited about going back to school and more eager to learn. They could walk into a new classroom feeling not like an ‘outsider’ but confident that they belong. And we all do know that education and love of learning and good socialization can help lead these children on to a successful life, and hopefully begin to break the cycle of homelessness. That is the intention of Operation School Bell, and everyone who was involved in this special day with these special kids, feel it was a success! Stay tuned for ‘phase two’!
Red Rock Boutique
One of our first projects from our 2020 planning session is almost completed! There is a room at the High School where the homeless/foster kiddoes (and any others in need) can go to get supplies and clothing. It was a pretty industrial looking storage room, with no place for the kids to try on clothing in private. Up to now, they had to escorted to the washrooms to try things on.
Now the room has a 3 way mirror, a big colorful rug, a round table and 2 comfy , colorful chairs. There are several coat racks to hold donated coats and larger items, and shelving for shoes, sweaters, etc. and other school supplies. Our wonderful Barbara Litrell donated the fabulous rug, Amanda (the manager) at Paw Prints West helped us afford the great table and chairs and delivered them, and gave us the extra clothing rack. SedonaKind member Bonnie Bussard donated the great mirror and Mary Ellen and a few other SK members donated some much needed girl’s clothing. We purchased a folding screen so the kiddoes can try on the clothing in “their” room. Of course we all want to paint and make it look like their own little department store, but this is a really great start! We’ll keep you all posted on supplies and clothing that is needed. So many thanks to all who made this happen!
SedonaKind PO Box 3059 Sedona, AZ 86340
SedonaKind meets the 3rd Friday of each Month from September to May. We meet at the Sedona Library in West Sedona at 10:00a.m. We ask that only fully Covid vaccinated individuals attend.