When families experience financial hardship, stable housing hangs in the balance as they face impossible decisions about how best to allocate limited resources; weighing costs of health care, food, transportation, and childcare. With rising costs of goods and services and skyrocketing housing rates, many families face homelessness across the state of Idaho. As of the 2020-2021 school year, over 7,000 Idaho youth were experiencing homelessness.
Students across Idaho find themselves in difficult living situations including being unsheltered in cars or other inadequate conditions, staying in public shelters, living with family and friends, or staying in hotels. The Idaho State Department of Education estimates that an average of 2.5% of the student population live in homeless conditions as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Schools provide pivotal resources to assist students and families during these difficult times to help ensure continued success in school and connection to crucial support. But what about when school is out?
As cooler temperatures arrive, many are thinking ahead to the holiday season. But for numerous students, this means extended breaks away from the security of important resources available at school such as regular meals. To help fill this gap, each year United Way of Treasure Valley rallies the community to join together to prepare care packages of shelf stable food and hygiene items to be distributed to schools across the region before holiday breaks.
Through Holiday Helper, hundreds of generous volunteers, donors, and supporters work together to ensure that all students across the Treasure Valley have what they need to be successful by offering key essentials for the holiday season. But more importantly, offering hope; reminding students and families of the community of support invested in ensuring everyone can thrive.