There are six students classified as homeless at Lake Havasu High School this semester. Last year, there were 20. The school’s faculty has been known to pay out-of-pocket for food and other essentials on the sly to protect the identities of those struggling students – but not for long.
“We’re going to start with asking the on-campus clubs for donations,” said LHHS school counselor Kathleen Stengel, who is also the school’s homeless student liaison. “We want the students to take ownership of it and really help the other kids.”
Stengel was inspired to implement the Food for Knights in-house pantry after reading of a similar program’s success at a school in another state. The project was approved by local school officials, and the project’s wheels have been in motion for about one year. Most recently, donation letters have been sent out seeking materials to outfit an out-of-the-way space within the school with shelving.
“It’s going to be anonymous, there is no sign-in and there is no tracking,” Stengel said. “They get to go in and shop. Students often have a tough time asking for specific things they need.”
The system allows the student to browse and choose items at will – in private. No questions asked. The pantry is set to open its doors to students in January 2017.
Organizers anticipate the shelves will be filled with items such as grab-and-go food, school supplies, clothing, standardized school shirts and sweatshirts, and personal hygiene items.
“We see a lot of kids who are hungry and they act out because they are hungry,” Stengel said. “They’re not getting what they need at home.”
Donations currently are being accepted. Food items such as ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, fruit snacks, or anything that is easy to make and shelve. There isn’t refrigeration. School supplies would include items such as binders, notebooks, pens and pencils. Personal hygiene items include soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and feminine cycle supplies.
SCHOOL SWEATSHIRTS/SHIRTS NEEDED
There is a recycle, reuse program at LHHS when it comes to the school district’s required shirts and sweatshirts. For example, the sweatshirts are $25 each at the LHHS bookstore, or when purchased new online.
Instances arise two or three times weekly in Stengel’s office when a student in need turns up asking for a standard school sweatshirt or shirt. Currently, she has none to offer.
There is a collection bin near the school’s bookstore. Any sweatshirts or shirts that other students have outgrown, or no longer use, are needed. They are laundered and provided to students in need.
To donate pantry items, standard school sweatshirts or shirts, or, out-of-school clothing, please contact the high school’s main office at 928-854-5001.