FOX 54 SPECIAL REPORT: Aiken Co. Schools fight to help homeless - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

FOX 54 SPECIAL REPORT: Aiken Co. Schools fight to help homeless students

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AIKEN, SC (WFXG) -

It's just another day for Sherida Stroman.

That means she's looking to help a homeless student in Aiken County.

Over the phone, Stroman speaks with another advocate about purchasing a new pair of pants for a student in need.

"And they have to be khaki, right?" she asks. "No pockets?"

It's almost a daily occurrence for Stroman, a team leaders with Aiken Co. Schools Student Services.

Her job is to help the large number of homeless students in the poverty-stricken school district.

"How many homeless students are we talking about?" asks Fox 54's Jake Wallace.

"We are close to about 400 students," replies Stroman.

According to the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a homeless student is one "who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence."

"We have students that have lost their homes due to foreclosure, eviction, fire," Stroman explains. "Sometimes they're doubled up with other people who could just put them out at any time."

Each day, she walks the halls of several Aiken County schools, making her presence known to the students who need her.

"If you're moving from place to place to place, that can be unsettling," she says. "So I strive to make sure that there is stability."

She and her team say their job is to make sure the students receive the education needed to get themselves out of their current situation.

"They need to change their lives, and also know, this is temporary, because change can happen at any time," she says. "They have the power."

For many students, school is hard enough.

Add to that being homeless, you have a situation many students could struggle to get out of, says Aiken High School Principal Garen Cofer.

"If you're not focused due to hunger or because of other basic needs, you're not going to perform in school," Cofer says. "I mean, that's just a given."

At Aiken High, they've recently found a new way to help provide students with much more than just an education.

In November, faculty and staff created a pantry to provide non-perishable food and other essential items to students who may be in need.

At any time, students can go to the pantry to pick out items, no questions asked.

"We have kids on the regular who tote bags of groceries out of here at least once a week," Cofer says.

Stroman says her team must give her students something beyond an education.

"Hope," she says. 

Hope that their situation will change.

Hope for a better tomorrow.

If you would like to learn more about homeless students, visit the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth website: http://www.naehcy.org/

For more on Aiken Co.'s efforts, visit http://federal-programs.acps.schoolfusion.us/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=230188

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