Did you know that according to the National Center for Educational Statistics in 2014-15 there were more than 1.2 million public school students who were homeless in the United States? That number represents 2.5 percent of the total number of students enrolled in public schools in our nation. And, since 2015, the number of homeless students throughout our country has been increasing.

In Las Cruces, in any given year, there are approximately 90 to 100 students who are homeless. Of that total, 25 to 30 are high school seniors. This sad reality means that when the school day is over, these students must find a place to do homework and a place to sleep – either in their car or in a local park. Some are able to crash on a friend’s couch maybe for a night or two. Unfortunately, meals are often few and far between and fast food restaurants provide the only nutrition they receive outside of school hours and on weekends.

The reasons for homelessness in our community are many and complex. The students who are homeless often find themselves in circumstances beyond their control. Many have lost their parents through incarceration, deportation, substance abuse or death. These scholars are hardworking, resilient and are striving to make a better life for themselves. Each year, many homeless high school seniors (85 to 90 percent) actually graduate. Many go on to enter college, find full-time jobs, or join the military.

We at Catholic Charities hope that you will reflect on the joy and blessings in your own life while also being aware of homeless students in our community. Donations are needed. You can help by donating gift cards (Walmart, Target, Supercuts, Marshalls), or hygiene products such as toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, deodorant or female hygiene items.

Donations can be dropped off with Terriane Morrison Everhart at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services at 424 North Main Street, Suite 100, Las Cruces, NM 88001 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Also, cash donations which will allow us to provide a student with a hotel room can be made through Catholic Charities’ website (www.catholiccharitiesdlc.org/donate). Select Support for Scholars from the drop down menu.