Playtime: Sobering statistics about homeless kids, and how you can help

Jen Marx
Jen Marx

In 2013, after hearing a story about homeless children in the Edmonds School District, a local mom started a grassroots effort to get snacks for those children that has since snowballed into so much more. Born from that initial effort, and the local support behind it, Washington Kids in Transition is now a full fledged, official non-profit organization that has so far assisted 13 schools in the district.

Per their website, there are currently 400 kids considered homeless in our school district. In 2013, the district estimated that number to be closer to 250. This upswing can be seen across Snohomish County. At the end of last month in Snohomish County, there was a Point in Time count, which serves as a yearly count of homeless people in our area. Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said the count showed a 100 percent increase in the number of “unsheltered families with children.” That number, currently at 35 families, accounts for “people who are sleeping in places not meant for human habitation,” but doesn’t include “those who are living in shelters or other temporary homes.”

So many times, hearing facts like those can leave you feeling troubled and helpless, but Washington Kids in Transition has many ways you can help right in your own backyard. I spoke with their director, Kim Gorney, about how their latest project, a book drive for Scriber Lake High School, came to be. While at the school setting up an “emergency closet” (this is a stockpile of whatever this particular school needs including snacks, socks, toiletries), Gorney found out that not only does the school
have the highest homeless rate in our district (Gorney told me often kids are already on their own or are in group homes), but a quick conversation with the librarian revealed some of their reference books are from the 1950s. The group’s decision to set up a book drive to update the school’s library has yielded 152 books so far, when their initial goal was 100.

Gorney told me that they are working on their fourth update to the Amazon Wish List, which was handpicked by the Scriber Lake librarian. If you would like to donate, you can purchase the books and either have them sent directly to the school (Attn: Leighanne Law) or drop them off at the Edmonds United Methodist Church office (Attn: Kim Gorney.) You can also make a donation via their website of money for books, snacks or motel vouchers, which the group uses to help keep a roof over the kids’ heads.

You can also still drop off snacks, meant to help the kids have food when they’ve left school for the day and to stock emergency closets. The closet at the Edmonds United Methodist Church is their “main closet” and stocks everything they have. Gorney explained that it is open to school representatives, so teachers, counselors, PTA, etc., can take them back to each school. These snacks can be purchased via their Amazon Wish List or dropped off at one of their many drop-off locations, including Revelations Yogurt on Main Street, the first official drop-off spot.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an mom of two young boys, is a traffic reporter by dawn and writer and PBJ maker by day. She is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her trying to make sense of begging kids to ” just eat the mac n cheese” at jen_marx . If you have a kid-friendly event you’d like to share, email her at play@myedmondsnews.com.

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