Helping the homeless in the RCAS District
This week observes National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Hundreds of local students are considered homeless, but a school resource is helping out where they can.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Donations from businesses, organizations and individuals fill the clothing closet at General Beadle School. The room is full of gently used clothes, shoes and winter ware for RCAS students free of charge.
For the past ten years, Anita Deranelau has worked as the McKinney-Vento Coordinator at RCAS – in her position she eliminates barriers to education by providing solutions to student’s immediate needs like clothing, food, school supplies and transportation.
Anita says, “Parents are always to thankful. We are only giving them two or three pair of pants or two or three shirts, but it makes a huge difference to the families.”
Through the McKinney -Vento Homeless Assistance Act, grants support students without homes. Including Pre-K, 358 RCAS students are identified without a home or not in a fixed nighttime residence – perhaps living in motels, or with friends or family, even living in cars.
“One student without a home is too many and it breaks my heart that we have so many. And part of my role is also advocacy in the community so I’m really excited when One Heart will come on board so we will have more options for families,” says Deranelau.
Anita also says the help from local organizations like Rapid City Collective Impact as well as a supportive community at large make her mission possible.
“We do have very caring and loving people in Rapid that want to help, sometimes we just don’t know what is the best avenue to help, so I’m glad to see in the last few years, Rapid has had a more concerted effort to try and help.”
She explains that all types of poverty can strike families at any given time, “That’s what I have seen in the last ten years, is a family will be without a home — they will get into housing, crisis hits, they are back again. And sometimes you know they have cycled three or four times in and out, and life is tough.”
In her line of work, Anita deals with a lot of the hardships of students’ lives, but can say it’s worth the impact it’s making.
“Because no one is more thankful than someone who has nothing or has very little and I get hugs from kids because I gave a pair of gloves. It’s a very rewarding job and I love it.”
The clothes closet at General Beadle is open Thursday from 9-11 a.m. or by appointment.
Anita mentioned that they will always take donations for the closet — just drop off at the General Beadle School Office.
The clothing items in most need are sizes 6-8 in pants for both boys and girls.