September 11. 2009
By Matthew Palevksy
On Wednesday, Arianna wrote about the human cost of the millions of foreclosures taking place across America. She focused on the surge in school children whose families have been evicted from their homes – and are struggling to learn while dealing with the instability and inherent distress of homelessness.
Inspired by Erik Eckholm’s reporting in the New York Times, Arianna tore up a speech she had prepared for a big education conference and instead talked to the gathered dignitaries about the crisis of homeless school kids.
Arianna’s post elicited an outpouring of concern and empathy from the Huffpost community.
“I actually cried while reading this article,” wrote BabeLush. “So much of us take for granted what we have. Being a victim of Hurricane Katrina I know how quickly your life can be turned upside down.”
And BabeLush was not alone. Dozens of people said the story moved them to tears while others were enraged by the absence of social justice. A commenter by the name PlainsWoman wrote:
“The effect of homelessness/poverty on our children is not only devastating to their academic achievement, it is also a civil rights issue. While the CEO’s get richer, we have children going without food and shelter every day.”
“To paraphrase a quote that has been attributed to Marcus Borg: ‘Charity is about helping victims, justice is about asking why there are victims.’ Where is the justice for these children and families?”
Among the outpouring of empathy, some have also contributed their own stories of homeless children in their community. Commenter Eilish wrote:
“My daughter-in-law had nine homeless students in her 1st grade class. The school was in chaos, feeding dozens of students free breakfast – that they hadn’t expected. These children slept at their desks, some cried because they were afraid their parents wouldn’t be able to find them after school. Some had head lice; some asked if they could wash in the bathroom. More than one sneaked some lunch into a napkin, and if noticed were extremely anxious…”
“Call a school near you and find out if they need help. Call your governor and ask where you can volunteer (that’ll get ’em thinking). There are food banks & shelters that are desperate for donations of food and money.”
“We’ve been offering our RV as a temporary stopgap for families who need time to get to a point where they have a secure place to go.”
Eilish was not alone in calling for action. As Arianna mentions in her blog, there are steps that the government can and should take to mitigate foreclosures and provide assistance to homeless school children. But we also have an individual responsibility to help our neighbors. Many have expressed an eagerness to aid children like Cody and Charity, but don’t know how to volunteer or which organization deserves their contribution. It seems that it’s too often the case that once you read a story about hardship, the inspiration to affect change is stymied by a lack of information about how best to lend a hand.
The Huffington Post wants to break down this barrier to getting involved. In early October, we are launching a new section called Impact in partnership with Causecast.org that will empower people concerned about social ills like child homelessness to make a difference. Impact will offer the community ways to take action, contribute and get involved.
We would like to hear from you. How do you think people can be part of the solution to the pressing issues of our day? If you have a story that you would like to share on the Huffington Post, or have tips on how people can get involved, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are one of the many readers who saw Arianna’s post on homeless school children and thought, “How can I help?” sign up below to join the Impact mailing list. You will be kept up to date on ways you can contribute on both a local and national level:
In early October we will be launching a new feature called “Impact” in partnership with Causecast.org. Impact will empower people concerned about social ills like child homelessness to make a difference. Sign up now to get involved!
This should be everyone’s concern. Anyone can become homeless.
Spending less on war and more on people would be a wonderful idea don’t you think?
There are over one million schoolchildren who are homeless.
There are many children who are not in school who are also homeless.
I wonder how many there are all together?