Quarters4KidsJanuary 31, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, firstname.lastname@example.org or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, email@example.com
A California State University, Bakersfield professor is once again teaming up with a local school district to fight child homelessness in Kern County. This week marks the launching of sociology professor Russell Travis' second annual Homeless Quarters Quarters4Kids school outreach program.
The project involves all 90 after-school classrooms within the Greenfield Union School District over a two-week period. Twenty different lesson-plans are provided, from which classroom teachers can choose as the basis for their lecture/discussion on the topic of homelessness.
The first through eighth graders will partake in educational activities and boost the effort by either "Helping Others out of a Jam" or "Helping Others out of a Pickle" using labeled mason jars to collect the donations. Travis said "The Jams" and "The Pickles" will face off against each other to see who can collect the most money in the jars to win the competition and help out local homeless children. The winning classes will receive a prize from their schools and each class will receive a certificate of appreciation from Quarters4Kids for their efforts.
The donated funds will be placed into an account and will be saved for local financial help requests made to the organization.
Travis said last year the students at Greenfield "surprised the world by donating $927 worth of change filling up lots of jars and, they accomplished this remarkable feat in just over two weeks. The results of these efforts inspired both Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall and Kern Schools Federal Credit Union to donate $927 each in matching funds," he continued. "One of our hopes this year is to extend our list of matching funds donors, especially businesses and individuals in the Greenfield area. This is all about kids helping kids, providing assistance to their less fortunate age-mates who just happen to be homeless at the moment. Unfortunately, some 39 percent of those who experience homelessness today are children and youth, and that figure is rising rapidly."
Travis said the Quarters4Kids program is tentatively scheduled to be introduced to the Richland School District this spring.
Travis founded Homeless Quarters in 2002 as a means to raise funds to help the homeless and near homeless in Kern County. "A lot of these people are middle class and have fallen through the cracks due to downsizing or lack of affordable housing," he said. His Homeless Quarters Foundation has placed clear plastic containers shaped like houses, with the inscription, "United We Stand Against Homelessness in America," in various Kern County businesses asking residents to deposit a spare quarter.
The organization has really taken off. Close to 150 businesses and offices throughout Bakersfield, including CSUB, now carry the donation containers. In 2005 it collected $10,000 and formed a board of directors. Travis plans to expand the Homeless Quarters project to include other areas including Fresno and San Luis Obispo.
For additional information, contact Travis at (661) 654-3159 or visit http://www.homelessquarters.org.