Playtime: Upcoming events to help local kids in need

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WA Kids packing Sept 2018
Volunteers packing snacks for Washington Kids in Transition.

Washington Kids in Transition last week welcomed over 100 volunteers from local companies, organizations and even a high school group, as they participated in the United Way’s Day of Caring Sept. 28, packing nearly 1,500 snack bags for students served by the McKinney-Vento Act in the Edmonds School District.

Washington Kids in Transition says on its Facebook page it distributed 32,500 snack bags last year.

The McKinney-Vento Act was created in 1987 to ensure homeless children and youth enroll and succeed in school. Currently, over 600 Edmonds School District students are homeless with, on average, 36 percent of families on free or reduced lunch programs according to the Nourishing Network, a program of the Foundation for Edmonds School District.

In 2013, a grassroots effort to help the school district’s homeless students was started by Edmonds mom Melody McMillan-Nelms. At that time, a district employee believed that there were “close to 250” homeless children in the district served under McKinney-Vento, which allows students to stay at their school despite their living situation and provides transportation to and from where the students are staying. An Edmonds School district spokeswoman told the Seattle Times in 2016, “We’ve literally got buses dropping kids at tents and cars.”

Seeing the setup for the Day of Caring, with people buzzing around in their matching blue shirts commemorating the day, made me think of the Mr. Rogers story about what his mother would say to him when he would “see scary things in the news.” She told him to “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” In remembering his mother’s words, Mr. Rogers was comforted by realizing “that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

I spoke briefly with the social worker at my son’s middle school this week. She told me that every week they get a delivery from the Nourishing Network that includes weekend meals — Nourishing Network hands out these meals to over 145 students in 19 ESD schools each week. She also explained just how helpful snacks like the two-in-a-pack granola bars included in the current WKIT delivery were. Just that morning, a student who hadn’t had breakfast was in her office for something to eat and she was able to offer a granola bar.

There are two opportunities coming up to help local organizations that serve children in need. Washington Kids in Transition is holding the “Out of Jeopardy: Auction and Trivia Competition” and Clothes for Kids, another amazing local charity, is holding the 9th Annual Clothes For Kids Transforming Lives Breakfast. Before we get to both events and more on what Clothes for Kids provides, the Nourishing Network — which also serves meals over the holidays and during the summer — always welcomes donations. You can learn more about all the different ways to help out on the Nourishing Network website.

Washington Kids in Transition’s “Out of Jeopardy: Auction & Trivia Competition” will be held on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Embassy Suites Hotel in Lynnwood. Those in attendance can bid on a variety of items in the silent auction, enjoy dinner with a no-host bar and then compete in a charity trivia competition. Individual tickets are $45 each or you can become a table captain and get 10 tickets at the same table for $400. You can buy tickets at charityauction.bid/WaKidsAuction2018 and you can find more information on their Facebook events page.

Per a Washington Kids in Transition Facebook post from last week, since school has started, the organization has provided:

– two families and one unaccompanied student with motel stays

– two families with utility support

– three families with immediate needs/rent support

– clothes and shoes for three kids who do not wear standard sizes

– 65 backpacks for McKinney Vento high school students

– Orca cards for two families

– emergency closets for several of the schools that include hygiene, toiletries, emergency food, undergarments, shoes and socks.

“This is the third year we have provided resources for in-school social workers, who provide case management for families climbing out of homelessness,” the organization notes. “We are proud to say, we have met the needs of every social worker’s request.”

Clothes for Kids is a referral-based program that provides free school clothing to Snohomish County school children whose families qualify for free or reduced lunch at school. Clothes for Kids has also shared information about the last month, saying that so far this school year, they have given free school wardrobes to 1,700 local students, which includes a warm coat, a lightweight jacket, pants and shirts, shoes, socks and underwear.

“In order to keep the store supplied with everything from socks to underwear to warm winter coats,” Clothes for Kids says, “we need your help.” You can find out all the ways to donate on the organization’s website — including cash donations and new or gently used clothing — and/or you can attend the 9th Annual Clothes For Kids Transforming Lives Breakfast. Held at the Lynnwood Convention Center on Thursday, Oct. 18 from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m., the breakfast is buffet style, and there is no charge to attend, though a donation will be requested during the event.

For more information on how to attend the 9th Annual Clothes For Kids Transforming Lives Breakfast, you can check out the Facebook events page.

– By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx

Jen Marx, a mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.

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