ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - A facebook comment has turned into thousands of dollars for homeless children. The Roanoke City Schools STAR Council started about a year ago by a group of students who wanted to help their classmates who were struggling with homelessness. They've sold pies and t-shirts and are now planning a pancake breakfast.
To date, the school system reports spending $4,705 assisting 37 families (75 students) and in most cases, the money prevented a family from becoming homeless. School spokesperson Justin McLeod said it paid for things like an utility bill, or rent and the money is being used to fill the gaps after all other community resources have been exhausted. McLeod said another $5,000 was used buying winter coats for homeless students and other needs (like shoes, hats, mittens, etc).
"We have a lot of homeless students here and they're just like us. They have to do the same work as us, they have to do the homework, they have to come to school every morning and I think it's important for them to have the best environment at home to get their work done just like we do," said Mark Randolph, William Fleming High School junior.
"Students all of us together we may not be as powerful alone but if we come together regardless of which high school we go to or what background we come from that we're all able to come together for one genuine cause and that's our peers," said Reese Betton, Patrick Henry High School senior.
There are about 100 less homeless students in Roanoke City Schools this year compared to the same time last year. At one time there were about 600 homeless children in the school system.
The Roanoke City Schools Help the Homeless Fund prevents families from becoming homeless paying things like rent or power bills so families don't get evicted. It also buys bigger ticket items like coats and shoes for families.
This is different than the United Way RYSE program that helps families once they become homeless get the services they need. Ten families are currently in the United Way program that many of you donated to during the 10 Cares telethon over the summer.
There is a pancake breakfast coming up to raise money for the Roanoke City School program. William Fleming and Patrick Henry students are putting it on Saturday, December 10th at William Fleming from 9 a.m. to noon. WSLS 10 is a proud sponsor. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students, and $20 for a family of four. They will accept cash or check the day of the event at the door. Checks need to made out to Roanoke City Public Schools, put Help the Homeless Fund in the memo section.