NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In the warehouse of the Community Resource Center (CRC) in Nashville, even the heat couldn't keep volunteers from getting to work.
"You never see hygiene in the back-to-school aisle, and yet, it's something that can be uncomfortable to talk about," said Executive Director of the Community Resource Center, Tina Doniger. That's why the CRC partnered with the Metro Nashville Public Schools Homeless Education Resource Office (HERO) program to provide hygiene kits to all students in Metro Schools who are experiencing homelessness.
Known as HERO Kits, they include things like soap, toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo.
Doniger said, "Really, the definition of homelessness at this level is that they don't have a stable nighttime solution." That could mean students are couch surfing, sleeping at hotels or even in cars.
In Davidson County, at least 3,000 students are considered homeless, but the true number could be much higher.
"When we talk about what we expect out of children when they get to school, if this is a hurdle before they ever get to school, how can we expect them to learn?"
The kits will also be distributed outside of Nashville, to a total of nine school districts in seven counties.
"So, we want to give them the experience that they didn't walk out with a clear bag that says, 'I had to go get help, here's my bag of items'," said Doniger. "We really pack things discreetly."
As an elementary school teacher in North Nashville, Megan McGuire has seen the need firsthand.
"Whenever back to school season came around, our community partners would get so excited to give pencils and notebooks and school uniforms, but hygiene was the thing that never showed up on our door," said McGuire.
In total, the CRC will prepare about 8,500 HERO Kits for students this school year.
"It is part of our everyday life and something that impacts every one of us, and it should be available for everyone," said Doniger.
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