April 5, 2012
Denfeld students help Hunters in crisis
By Steve Kuchera
The 50 care kits Denfeld National Honor Society
members assembled Wednesday aren’t destined for a Third World
country or for victims of a natural disaster. They’re for
classmates struggling with poverty or family turmoil, who might
be homeless, living at a shelter or couch-surfing.
“We always go through all the kits,”
said Shane Erickson, who was a school social worker at Denfeld for
10 years before becoming its dean of students.
“Over 50 percent of our population is living
in poverty,” he said. “In a school of our size, that’s
around 650 kids. Living in poverty day in and day out is pretty
Districtwide, about 20 to 25 students at each
high school are homeless at some point during the year, said Deb
Wagner, who coordinates the district’s homeless student education
program. In some cases, the student’s entire family is going
Sometimes the kids in crisis are invisible,”
Denfeld NHS adviser Michele Helbacka said. “We had a student
in one of own classes who was in crisis. All of a sudden the students
realized: We have homeless kids, kids in the crisis center, kids
who are staying with their grandmother.”
Without going into detail, Denfeld senior and
NHS chapter co-president Kayla Pederson related how chapter members
recently helped someone in need.
“I was overwhelmed by how different their
life is than mine,” she said. “It’s comforting
that someone wants to help out and make your life a little easier.
It makes me happy to see that we can help our community.”
The 60-member Denfeld NHS chapter worked for several
weeks, asking local businesses for donations and raising money to
buy shampoo and conditioner, razors, washcloths, soap, toothbrushes
and toothpaste for the kits.“
Everyone had to get 10 items,” Denfeld senior
and NHS member Pat Dowd said. “I feel great when I do it.
I feel like I’m helping someone out and that’s what
NHS is all about.”
After classes Wednesday, Dowd and about 20 other
NHS members gathered in Helbacka’s room to separate and pack
the items into one-gallon, resealable plastic bags. The assembled
kits will go to the offices of Erickson, the school nurse and school
social worker Hannah Pierre.“
In the last month alone I’ve had three students
ask for hygiene items,” Pierre said.
Most of the demand is from students whose families
are in transition, Pierre said. The students may be staying with
relatives and don’t want to ask them to buy needed items they
not might be able to afford themselves.
She appreciated the 20 kits NHS gave her Wednesday.
“It’s nice to meet the needs of students,”