During this season when our thoughts turn to the Greatest Gift given, we are moved to express that gift in tangible ways with the lost, last and least among us. We cannot ignore that the number of unhoused people has increased. Across the county, there are around 59,000 sleeping “in the rough”, of those 36,000 alone can be found in the City of Los Angeles. While this situation is unacceptable and we pray that our elected leaders enact the right strategies and policies, the Body of the Christ can help ensure that helpful services that exist reach the most vulnerable. Among the latter are families with children. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has identified 16,000 students who are homeless (living with a parent or two in shelters, cars or tents).
The LAUSD Homeless Education Program offers a sponsorship project every Christmas season whereby a homeless family receives personal items as well as gifts for the children. This is a direct way for a church to share the joy of serving a Loving God. The program will provide a list of items that can be given as well as the back story of the sponsored family. For more information about the project, you can contact Tammy Wood (a believer), Senior Facilitator at (213) 202-2004 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Beyond this Christmas time, you can bless a high school senior who has overcome the challenges of being homeless to receive a diploma. You also can contact Tammy Wood on how your church can honor a graduating student who is homeless.
Another way to assist homeless families is through the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). Its Head Start and Early Learning Division give homeless families with children, ages 3-5yrs, priority in getting services to ensure the stability of the family and instill skills and knowledge (health, academic, social-emotional) that will enhance positive development growth in the child. The services are at no cost to the family but a child must be enrolled in the program. No home address is required but the family must verify that they are indeed homeless; a letter from a pastor can fulfill that requirement. To get information about the Head Start program and locate the nearest one near your church call 1-877-773-5543 or go on the website www.prekkid.org. As homeless families are a priority LACOE will help identify the closest Head Start that has an opening.
May your church be a blessing to others in special ways this season.