Community Reaches Out To Help Homeless Students

SPOKANE, Wash. - There's a growing number of students in Spokane and Spokane Valley's School Districts who end their day at school and have no home to go to at night. In some districts, the student homeless population grew between 2010 and 2011 by 55-percent.

Here are how the numbers break down:

Spokane Public Schools ? 55% increase 2010: 387 2011: 551

Central Valley School District ? 45% increase 2010: 192 2011: 278

West Valley School District ? 50% increase 2010: 45 2011:100

East Valley School District ? 55% increase 2010: 133 2011: 69 (Sept. & Oct.)

Mead School District ? 32% increase 2010: 45 2011: 100

Each student represented in the numbers above has a story. One student ? a minor who could not be named ? said sometimes, when shelters are full, he has a sleeping bag to keep him warm behind a laundromat. Another student revealed she sleeps in a horse trailer in a back yard.

After KXLY's initial story revealing a growing number of homeless students, Jennifer Compau's phone at the West Valley School District's alternative school began ringing.

?I was touched by the news broadcast,? one voicemail began. ?About how many kids are homeless and I was wondering if there was some kind of program that I could contribute to.?

?I've had people call, literally in tears on the phone saying I don't know, what can I do?? Compau said.

Compau runs the HEART program at West Valley. HEART is a government-mandated program to assist homeless students ? though it goes largely unfunded.

Hearing the stories of the students who live their lives largely on the streets though, prompted the community to donate money, clothing and even spare rooms in their homes.

One sixth-grade girl at City School in the West Valley School District also felt the call to action.

?Our goal was to fill our teacher's bus, it was like a hippie bus,? Izabelle Rullier said giggling.

The pint-sized 12-year-old decided to have a food drive. She donated half of the 1,000 pounds she brought in to Compau's students and the other half to 2nd Harvest.

?A lot of kids brought in giant boxes, one kid brought in a bunch of stuff from Costco,? Rullier said.

It's proof anyone can change the fate of another. It just takes awareness and then action.

?I'm just overwhelmed with that and I think that the more we get the word out there people are generous and compassionate,? Compau said.

If you know of a student who needs help through the HEART program, these are the contacts by district:

Spokane Public Schools: (509) 354-7305

Central Valley School District: (509) 228-4114

West Valley School District: (509) 927-1100

East Valley School District: (509) 241-5068

Mead School District: (509) 465-6008