, ,

Kids and parents alike are anticipating what the start of school means.

For some kids there’s a sense of dread – back to bedtimes, early wake-up times, and the structure and routine that the summer months had freed them of. Their primary concern is what kind of impression they’ll make at the beginning of the school year, which new outfit to pick to wear, and wondering whether the cool new backpack they’ve got packed and waiting will cut the mustard in the social stratosphere.

There’s an entirely different group of kids who are looking forward to the first day of school tomorrow for another reason. While they may have enjoyed some of the freedoms that summer afforded – going back to school will mean for them:

  • A climate controlled environment to spend a good portion of their day.
  • A guarantee of two meals to eat each day.
  • A place where – hopefully – a child will not have to focus so much on the crisis that is surviving day-to-day life, and where people will – with any luck – simply just look at them as a kid with potential.

Can you imagine getting your kid ready to head off to school if you and your family were homeless?

I can try – but honestly – I don’t think I have the first glimmer of a clue.

At the end of the 2010-2011 school year there were 1,605 homeless students in the Beaverton School District.

Last year we found ourselves wondering HOW?! In Beaverton? Really? Can that be real?

I can assure you – Yes, in Beaverton. Yes, really. Yes, it is real.

So – last year we knit and crocheted.

Who is “we”?

  • Those of us who live and/or work in the Beaverton School District boundaries.
  • And a bit beyond those boundaries.
  • And as far away as New York, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, California, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington, etc….

Local yarn stores and national yarn companies gifted our effort with more than – brace yourself – $26,000 in yarn, knitting needles and crochet hooks, and supplies of all kinds. (I know – go ahead, grab your tissue, it still chokes me up, too!)

We managed to knit and/or crochet at least one item for each of last year’s 1,620 homeless students in the Beaverton School District.

We’d originally just made the goal to do that and end. But at the conclusion the undeniable, resonating plea from nearly all involved was: “We can’t stop. Not while there are still homeless students in the Beaverton School District.”

So – we won’t.

We’re going to do it again.

We’re going to try and knit and/or crochet small, portable, beautiful, stylish, amazing items for those homeless students – only this time we’re gonna throw in a twist. We are going to include the students in the Continuing Education for Young Parents (CEYP) program in the Beaverton School District.

CEYP offers high school, parenting, and practical day-to-day life curriculum to young women who find themselves facing a pregnancy as a student of the BSD. Not only that, this program provides childcare to the children of the young women – allowing them the freedom to focus on their education, while still being allowed to spend time with their babies.

SO – the big twist being – we will gladly take small items – for children ages infant through adult sized. We’ve got students in every grade in need – and so – we’ve got a lot of creative license!

Admit it – you have wanted to knit or crochet some baby booties, haven’t you? Okay – I can admit it – I found the cutest baby hat pattern and I have been looking forward to casting on for it! And I have it on good authority that any and all layette items would be enthusiastically accepted.

So – to revisit some of the dynamics from last year.

  • Items should be small. One to two skein items are probably best. Some of the homeless students must be able to carry all of their belongings in a medium sized duffle bag. It’s all the space they have. So respect that, please.
  • We would prefer that items be crafted in natural fiber. (Baby items, of course, the important factors are SOFT and easy to care for.)
  • Ideally – we’d like to get items into the hands of kids before it gets really cold. Hard to imagine really cold right now when it’s still in the low 80’s at night! But time will fly – and I want to leave you enough time to craft for the holidays. So – the sooner the better.

Here’s a link to last year’s outline for the BSD Project – feel free to take a peek at that and refresh your memory if you’d like to.

Bottom line: there are still children in need in our midst. In our neighborhoods. In our schools. How can we not respond?