Smiles, laughter help homeless students in KCK

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Student homelessness is a heavy topic, but it’s an issue that a Kansas City, Kan. group hopes to address in part with some laughs.

Jessica Smith is the liaison for McKinney-Vento, a program that provides help for students in need in the Kansas City, Kan. Public School District.

Smith remembers one of the many times she’s helped a family in need. 

"It was a little girl, and she ran up to me and she hugged my leg really tight, and I said, 'Oh, thank you baby. What's that for?' 'You gave us a bed tonight,' and then she pushed her brother and said, 'Go give her a hug.'"

The group helps hundreds of kids in the district.

“I have over 700 kids,” Smith said. “Sleeping under a bridge or sleeping in a car isn’t the only way you can be homeless. There are families that are doubled up, sleeping in a two-bedroom with five kids and four adults.”  

As the number of kids grows, so does demand.  

Much of the assistance provided to KCKPS students comes from federal funding, but federal dollars don’t cover everything.

On Thursday, April 26,  KC Improv is hosting a comedy show and silent auction to help raise money for the homeless program.

Smith says it’ll be money well spent.

“Everybody that is in this situation was only a decision away,” Smith said. “We should never ever take for granted what we have. Nobody woke up this morning and said, ‘Well I think I want to be homeless with my children sleeping in the car.’”

Doors to the show open at 6 p.m., and admission is $20. 

The fundraiser is hosted by Leadership 2000, a non-profit that focuses on improving the quality of life in Wyandotte County.

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