Community rallies for Students in Transition

The program supports local youth who are homeless or are facing challenges in their home life.

Thirty duffel bags filled by the Kenai Peninsula Association of Realtors for children in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Students in Transition Program are photographed in December 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Martin)

Thirty duffel bags filled by the Kenai Peninsula Association of Realtors for children in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Students in Transition Program are photographed in December 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Martin)

Students at Kenai Central High School are working to give back to other district students in need this winter, by hosting a spaghetti feed and silent auction to benefit the district’s Students in Transition program.

The fundraiser event is student-organized and student-led, an announcement posted on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s communications blog said.

“Even if you are not eating you can stop by to take a look at silent auction items provided by our local families and businesses,” Kenai Central High School students Hunter Beck and Elizabeth Hanson wrote in their announcement on the district’s blog.

“We hope to see you there and are blown away from our communities support. Thank you.”

All proceeds will go to support the Students in Transition program, which supports local youth who are homeless or are facing challenges in their home life. The program is open to students in pre-K through seniors in high school.

Eligible children are students who lack a permanent, stable and adequate place to sleep at night. The program supports students who are living in close quarters with extended family or friends because of financial difficulty or a loss of housing. Students who are couch-surfing and living in substandard housing, including students who are living in a hotel, shelter, tent, camper or car, are eligible. Unaccompanied youth who are living without a parent or legal guardian may also be eligible.

The Students in Transition program can provide immediate school enrollment, free school meal benefits, transportation to and from school, school supplies, assistance in obtaining vital records and referrals to local social service agencies and public programs.

Kenai Reindeer Farm is raising funds for the program through some family-friendly holiday events. The farm will have one of Santa’s reindeer at the Nikiski Senior Center from noon to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Santa’s reindeer will also be making stops from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 at HUB International Insurance in Soldotna, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Cannery Lodge in Kenai and from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 21 at Freedom Physical Therapy, according to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Students in Transition page, which shares updates to residents interested in supporting the program.

Last month, in honor of hunger and homelessness awareness month, the Last Frontier Freethinkers put together backpacks for the Students in Transition program. According to their Facebook page, the Homeless Teen Backpack Project delivered 29 backpacks. The nonprofit organization is hoping to fill 150 backpacks and is taking donations for the Homeless Teen Backpack Project on their website.

Cabin Fever Creations, the Soldotna pottery painting shop, also accepts customer donations for the Students in Transition program.

The Kenai Peninsula Association Realtors is participating in their annual duffel bag donation for the program. The association has dispersed duffel bags across area real estate offices.

Each duffel bag will go to a student in the program who has filled out a list of things they need. The association’s members and affiliates are encouraged to help fill each duffel bag, which will be given to the district’s homeless liaison at the association’s Dec. 12 award ceremony, according to the association’s December newsletter.

In the 2018-2019 school year, there were 224 students across the district identified as homeless, as defined by the federal McKinney-Vento Act.

Support services are facilitated through the district’s homeless liaisons, Kelly King and Jane Dunn. King serves the central peninsula, Seward and Tyonek, and Dunn serves the southern peninsula and Ninilchik. Reach them at kking@kpbsd.k12.ak.us or jdunn@kpbsd.k12.ak.us.

The fundraiser is at 6 p.m., Friday at the Kenai Central High School cafeteria. Prices start at $5 for kids under 14, $10 for adults and $25 for a family of five or more.

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