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While the holiday season brings presents and celebrations for many of us in Dallas, the cold weather makes December and January among the hardest months for the more than 2,500 homeless students in Dallas ISD.

The Dallas ISD Homeless Education Center is committed to providing support for these students and their families. For community members who want to donate to these students, the Homeless Education Center says these are the most needed items:

  • New coats and jackets
  • New hygiene items
  • Christmas gifts for older students (makeup, cologne, etc.)
  • Shelf-stable food, such as tuna kits, that don’t require a microwave to heat up
  • Gift cards

You can drop off the donated items to the Homeless Education Department located at the Frazier House, 4600 Spring Ave. You can also contact Ashley Marshall, the district’s homeless liaison, at 972-749-5789 or asmarshall@dallasisd.org.

Helping homeless students throughout the year

Dallas ISD and many of our District 2 schools are committed to supporting our homeless students throughout the year. Twenty high schools—including Woodrow Wilson High School and North Dallas High School in District 2–have drop-in centers that provide a welcoming and inviting atmosphere for our homeless education students with food, supplies and support. 

Meanwhile, several District 2 schools such as Geneva Heights Elementary School, Long Middle School and Woodrow Wilson High School, have Peace Pantries that feed families throughout the year. These Peace Pantries accept donated goods throughout the year, so please feel free to contact the campuses directly to see how you can help. 

On the districtwide level, I am proud of the initiative to turn the vacant Fannie C. Harris Elementary School into a youth center that will accommodate homeless Dallas ISD students. It was an honor to attend a special ceremony and ribbon-cutting ceremony in November that celebrated the work that has gone into opening the center.

Initially, the Fannie C. Harris Youth Center will open as an after-hours drop-in center for homeless youth to have a safe place to hang out, do homework and have access to laundry and shower facilities. In the spring, with further renovations, the center is planned to open its overnight component for up to 35 unaccompanied, unsheltered students.

The center is being operated by After8toEducate, a collaborative effort formed through the Social Venture Partners of Dallas. The collaboration brings together Dallas ISD, Promise House and CitySquare to provide essential services for district students and other homeless youth ages 14-21.

In Other News…

The application window is underway for families looking to apply for magnets, collegiate academies, two-way dual language schools, or a transformation school. Go to www.dallasisd.org/yourchoices to apply and learn more.

Dallas ISD’s Food and Child Nutrition Services Department will offer students 18 years and under (or special needs students up to age 21), free meals during the winter break. The program aims at providing students nutritious meals even during their vacation. Visit www.dallasisd.org/fcns to learn more.

Dustin Marshall is the District 2 representative on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees.

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