High school students help out the homeless among them

High school students help out the homeless among them

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by Justin Corr

Bio | Email | Follow: @JCorrKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on May 6, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 11:22 AM

BOISE -- Hundreds of homeless students in the Treasure Valley - it's a population that few people even really know about. Yet, one high school student is trying to change the public's awareness -- and help his fellow students get what they need to learn.

Sunday was a special day at Boise's Westside Drive-In.  Here, a team of young volunteers worked to get donations for a non-profit called tje Organization Assisting the Homeless Student (OATHS), and helps provide those students with everything from books, to clothes, and musical instruments and athletic equipment.

Boise's Ben Skinner founded OATHS two years ago when he was just a sophomore at Bishop Kelly High School. It all started when he learned that his mom was teaching about 30 homeless students in junior high.

"I cannot believe that there are students who are my age, or a little bit younger, or older than me, that are homeless," said Skinner. "[They] have to go to school, and then don't have a place to go after school."

Skinner said there are close to 2,400 homeless students in the Treasure Valley, a number which also shocked some of his classmates into action.

"It's kind of alarming to hear the number and the percentage of kids who are homeless," said Megan Rebholtz, a senior at Bishop Kelly who volunteered on Sunday.

Megan Nicola, a junior at Bishop Kelly, was also volunteering on Sunday. "Any way I can help another student get some supplies, or do something they want to do -- it's really good."

OATHS has been making progress, already raising $40,000 and helping 400 students over the course of its existence. That's because the group takes donations from people like Mary Erickson.

"It's so important to help students with what they need to learn," said Erickson. "It's just kind of a scary thing to think that kids don't have what they need to be successful in school."

But more students are getting what they need thanks to OATHS.

Skinner says a moment he'll never forget is when he was able to give one young student a pair of basketball shoes.

"Then he asked, 'Well, can I put them in my box?'" said Skinner. "So many kids my age have a full room to put all their stuff in, and this kid can fit all the items that are his in a box. So, that's when I was like, 'This isn't fair, and these kids need a fair chance.'"

On Sunday, Westside Drive-in also donated five percent of their income on to OATHS.

If you'd like to learn more about the nonprofit, you can click here.

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