Sun Prairie Schools team up with the Sunshine Place to support area homeless students

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — The Sun Prairie School District has teamed up with the Sunshine Place to raise awareness and offer support to homeless students in light of National Homelessness Awareness month. 

The district found that 105 of their students identified as homeless this year, according to McKinney Vento Coordinator Catherine Reierson. 

Reierson said homelessness can look different for everyone. While the definition can include people who are sleeping on the streets or in their cars, it can also include families who are paying for a hotel room out of pocket or sleeping on the floor of someone else’s home. 

“Every city is having that crisis right now where there are doubled up families, families sleeping in hotels or shelters, but it’s not visible,” Sunshine Place Housing Navigation Specialist Leticia Hockenberry said.

In order to demonstrate how many students in the community were impacted by homelessness last year, the two organizations are creating a banner composed of 176 ribbons to hang at Meadowview Elementary. The banner will face Grand Avenue near Highway C. 

Sun Prairie schools and the Sunshine Place are also asking members of the community to donate gently used winter clothing to C.A.R.D.S Closet, the Sunshine Place’s free clothing bank. They are currently looking for winter coats, boots, gloves and hats. 

Families can sign up for an appointment through the school district to pick out the clothes they need in private.

“It really takes all of us to make an impact on homelessness,” Reierson said. “So we really want people to know that they have the power to do something and help the community.” 

Aside from making donations, Reierson and Hockenberry said there are other ways to support homeless individuals in the community, such as volunteering at the Sunshine Place’s local food pantry, hosting your own donation drive at work or school, and talking with elected officials about these issues.

“This is just a month-long event but they can do stuff at any time to support this issue,” Reierson said. “Sunshine Place is always taking volunteers, and donations so we just appreciate what people can do.”

The C.A.R.D.S Closet donation box is open Monday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1632 W. Main Street.