OCDE’s stockpile of supplies for families experiencing homelessness is running on empty.
Jeanne Awrey, who coordinates the department’s homeless education program and oversees the OCDE-led HOPES Collaborative, says the pandemic has taken its toll, driving up demand for clothes, shoes, diapers, hygiene products, laundry detergent, school supplies and other necessities.
“Our supply store room has very few items left to distribute,” she says. “As fast as we receive or intake donations, they go out.”
Since April, the department has collected and distributed more than 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, more than 1,000 school supplies, more than 1,000 Kindle electronic readers and over 300 sets of earphones.
But much more is needed.
Awrey said families are in need of basic tools for distance learning, including book lights for reading, audio headsets and multi-plug extension cords. They also need essentials like laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, disinfecting wipes, clothes for boys ages 3 to 5, air mattresses and hygiene products.
All contributions will be accepted, and drop-offs can be arranged by emailing Awrey directly. As soon as donations are received, she says, school district liaisons will be notified.
The HOPES Collaborative, which stands for Homeless Outreach Promoting Educational Success, is a partnership that includes county homeless prevention leaders, school district representatives, faith-based groups, law enforcement agencies and community organizations. All are working together to remove enrollment barriers for students, providing a foundation for academic stability.
Orange County is home to approximately 28,000 students who are homeless, representing about 5.9 percent of the overall student population.