Durham Public Schools prepare families in need for winter: 'Really helpful'

Akilah Davis Image
Friday, November 3, 2023
DPS staff work to take care of students facing homelessness
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Many of the schools within the Durham Public Schools district have either food pantries, coat closets, or both to meet the needs of students.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- When families experiencing homeless need help, Durham Public Schools comes to the rescue.

One Durham mom who wanted to remain anonymous knows what it's like to be cold at night.

"We lived in an abandoned house for a little bit," she said. "It was emotional because it was my first time doing something like that. It was in the winter as well trying to keep them warm. Just trying to feed them."

She told ABC11 she's doing the best she can to provide for her six children, but sometimes it's simply not enough.

Her arms showed off the jacket that got her nine year old through two winters. This season will make year three.

"It's been really helpful. It has a little hood and everything. We layer it," she said.

According to Durham Public Schools says nearly 600 of its students districtwide are in transition, meaning they're experiencing homelessness.

"Sometimes we'll give out gift cards for food and gift cards for clothing that have been donated, said Kendall Dorsey, principal of W. G. Pearson Magnet Elementary School. "We have a refrigerator so when we get items. We've had meat and salmon. All types of things to provide families to support them."

ALSO SEE: Parents begin assessing Durham Public Schools' reassignment plan: 'Makes students competitive'

There are even coats which have been donated by the community.

"It's so critical the kids have what they need. You can't learn if you're hungry or cold. You have no idea where you're going to be at night. What are you going to eat. Just offering them a hot meal before they leave every day," said Jim Keaton with Durham Public Schools Nutrition Services.

According to the mom of six, the school district has been good to her. It has sent food home and supplied her kids with clothes, including the pink jacket. It's already become too small for her daughter.

"They've grown," she said. " So we need bigger ones."