By Nicole Mason, Community Outreach Chair, East Cobb County Council of PTAs

As the holidays approach, we begin to look around us and see just how fortunate we are. We see first hand just how much we have to be thankful for.

From little things, such as giving our friends and family the gifts they desire, to necessities such as providing food and warmth for our families.

Social media inundates us with all things “Holiday” prompting us to give more thought to the things we desire or what we desire for the loved ones around us.

Cobb County has 45 listed Title 1 schools and within that Title 1 community there are approximately 1,030 homeless children who during this “Joyful,” “Happy,” “Wonderful” season worry about where their next meal may come from. Title 1 is defined as “provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families…in other words, free and reduced lunch.”

Homelessness is defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to include, “children who may have a primary nighttime facility but said facility is not deemed appropriate for sleeping accommodations, children who are living in hotels, emergency or transitional shelter, cars or public space.”

If we for just a moment put ourselves in these families’ shoes, would we want compassion to be shown to us and our children? Would we want a helping hand to meet the needs we as parents could not fulfill for whatever reason? Would we want someone to show us the goodness and kindness of the human spirit just because it’s the right thing to do?

This season our community has an amazing opportunity to get involved this holiday season by simply asking this one question, “What is the need that I can help meet?”

There are many organizations hosting giving opportunities. Many local churches offer programs and ministries that you can be active in. MUST Ministries, Operation Christmas Child, and your local church food pantry are just a few of the places where you can be impactful. Some Title 1 schools also have their own food pantries and take donations all year.

Did you know that every county school also employs a social worker? That social worker can provide an in depth awareness of the needs of its school population and how you can help.

Please consider offering your help now and when the holidays are over. Student poverty and homelessness are continual issues that are not going away anytime soon. The next generation is our future and our voice.

Let’s help them by showing kindness, generosity and graciousness to those who might be in need.

“Generosity isn’t just a money thing, its a heart thing.”—Dave Ramsey

(Nicole Mason serves as Community Outreach Chair for the East Cobb County Council of PTAs. She resides in the Tally Green subdivision with her husband Sam and two children, Alexander and Gabrielle, who are students at Mt. Bethel Elementary where she also volunteers as Community Outreach Chair and Sister School Coordinator.)