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Support Organizations Help Kids Beyond the Classroom

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Food, clothing and healthcare. These are some pretty basic needs that most of us take for granted. Yet a lot of people can’t meet those basic needs, and many of them are students.

In Clark County, 64 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. That’s more than 200,000 kids in the Las Vegas area. They are not always in the neighborhoods that you think.

If families can’t afford to feed their children, they probably can’t afford to clothe them much either, and then if a child gets sick, it can strain a family unimaginably.

But there are organizations that aim to help fill those gaps.

Three Square not only provides food for the homeless, but also provides food for kids in Title 1 schools. They serve breakfast before school and after-school meals, as well as food for summer and break programs.

"Sometimes there are children who will tell you directly that they are hungry," Dorian Stonebarger, the program manager for Three Square told KNPR's State of Nevada. "Other times you will notice that a student comes to school and they have a headache or their stomach hurts every Monday that's a sign that they weren't eating over the weekend. There are also signs in the cafeteria. If children are eating off other kids' plates or if they're eating food out of the garbage, those are things you want to look out for."

Three Square is hoping to add food trucks that will allow them to go to apartment complexes to feed kids in need. 

The Assistance League is an all-volunteer organization that provides clothing for kids from low-income families. But this is not a hand-me-down site. This is a large store where kids can pick out new clothes - even essentials like a toothbrush and a book.

“There is so much need!" Carroll Mueller, the public relations chair and past president of the Assistance League of Las Vegas, said. “We're maxed out with just membership working with membership. We're limited. You can only do so many kids in a day unless we doubled our membership and we could do it morning and afternoon." 

"If you could see their faces after they picked their clothes and then they look like their peers because everything we provide is new. It's current. So they go back into the classroom looking like everyone else."

Mueller said they can dress kids in new clothes for $75. The also offer replacement clothing for when they grow out of their clothes.  

And Positively Kids was started to help kids who are medically fragile - kids born with birth defects, who suffer accidents and need to be on ventilators or in wheelchairs. But the group has expanded to have health clinics in schools, and runs a full-service clinic in Child Haven.

"What we talk about with our team is the difference we make every day," Fred Schultz, the CEO for the Foundation for Positively Kids said, "We have a census of 400 kids a day in all of our school based, home health, early intervention, respite, day care, all the programs about 400 kids a day. So you've made a difference with those 400 kids. And that's the way you have to look at it otherwise you'd be nuts!"

Schultz said the three biggest health problems that keep kids out of school are asthma, diabetes and obesity. 

Carroll Mueller, PR Chair and Past President of Assistance League of Las Vegas;  Dorian Stonebarger, program manager for Three Square;  Fred Schultz, CEO Foundation for Positively Kids

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)