MANSFIELD — On Aug. 2, Sluss Realty, 1641 Park Avenue West, is hosting a Stuff the Bus to support the S.A.F.E. program (Student Achievement through Family Engagement) for the Mansfield City School District, and the kids and families who have been identified as homeless.
Despite the stash of shampoo, clothing and toys inside the Tiger Care Cave at the Mansfield City Schools board office, SAFE program coordinator, Phil Mitchell, said that, by October, all of the items will be gone.
The SAFE program, which has been operating the last seven years, currently assists anywhere from 360-375 homeless students a year.
“The number of homeless students has increased since the time I’ve been working there,” Mitchell said, who has been with the program nearly since its inception. “Most of the children who have been homeless once or twice in their lifetime usually don’t graduate from school. Often times, they’re a grade level behind. Many of them land in that cycle of poverty and really struggle to get out. We try to take away as many barriers as we can for those students, and one thing we can do is take care of some of the tangible barriers and make them feel a little better themselves.”
While food and shelter are vital, Mitchell said the next question is to check in on the student’s mental health
“Most of these kids are damaged and they don’t feel too good about themselves,” he said. “We try to educate every person in the district on poverty and homelessness and the signs to look for. Once we identify those kids, we try to do everything we can to help them.”
Sluss Marketing Director Jami Kinton-Sluss said the initiative is one of many for the Mansfield agency.
“Being a local small business, we definitely understand the importance of community support,” she said. “We are constantly looking for new ways to give back and when we heard about this program we knew we wanted to get involved. My dad used to be a principal at Carpenter Elementary and then finished his education career at central office, so I know from him just how important programs like these are to the district.”
The community is invited to drop off any of the listed items (new items only, please) at Sluss Realty, 1641 Park Avenue West, Mansfield, anytime between now and Aug. 2 between 8 and 5 p.m. — but the official day of outreach will be Aug. 2.
A Mansfield City School bus will be parked outside their offices from 9-4 p.m. that day. There will also be a live broadcast throughout the day with my100.1 FM, food from Mr. Bills Mobile Wood-Fired Pizza and a visit from Miss Ontario, Abigail Kern, whose mother also works for the SAFE program.
For more information, call 419-529-3047 and ask for Jami.
Shampoo and conditioner
Diapers and Pull-ups, especially sizes 4/5
Hair care products (combs, brushes)
Barrettes for little girls
Feminine hygiene pads
School supplies for all ages
Puzzles 24-50 pc