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Las Vegas Helping Homeless Student Population | News

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Las Vegas Helping Homeless Student Population
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LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County School District is seeing more homeless students than ever before.

More than 5,000 Clark County students do not have a permanent place to call home. They live in homeless shelters, bounce between weekly motels, and some even sleep in their cars.

But even as their numbers continue to rise, so does the commitment of community groups determined not to let them fall between the cracks caused by cutbacks.

"About 40-percent of the homeless population is families. So it's not just those guys pushing the carts around anymore," said Myra Berkovitz with CCSD Homeless Services.

During the 07-08 school year, there were just under 4,000 homeless students enrolled in Clark County schools. That number jumped to nearly 5,000 in one year. It continues to rise this year.

Now nearly all of the valley's 300 plus schools have some portion of their population who is homeless.

"It's really, really scary because people are facing this for the first time who never in a million years thought they would," said Berkovitz.

Something as simple as a new backpack full of school supplies and toiletries, a new school uniform or jacket, and food to take home for the weekend can make a homeless child feel more secure.

"A lot of our families are in absolute chaos right now because of this economic environment," said Elizabeth Smith, Principal of Pat Diskin Elementary.

To fill that growing need, volunteers with the Choice Center Worldwide University dropped off donations at Diskin Elementary Tuesday, where 70-percent of the students live at or below the poverty level.

The group collected nearly 30,000 items in just four hours last weekend.

Community efforts are helping to fill the gap created by government cutbacks and budget deficits -- to try and prevent at-risk children from falling through the cracks.

Donating to your neighborhood school is a great way to make a difference. Some of the most commonly requested items are toothbrushes and toothpaste.One of the more unusual requests these days is flashlights for students living in homes where the electricity has been cut off.

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