Two days before the Sauk Prairie School District let out for Thanksgiving break, Susan Baumann-Duren was scrambling to ensure the district's neediest students receive a bag of food to see them through the four-day weekend.
"I would shake your hand, but I'm a little sweaty," Baumann-Duren said.
She'd just organized more than a dozen high school students from the Bridgez club to bag and carry some of the food to a drop-off point at the high school.
She'd spent a good portion of Tuesday morning checking lists, counting donation bags and consulting with people in the district who'd be distributing the food to children.
Baumann-Duren said the need in the school district keeps rising. Every year she keeps a tally of homeless students in the district.
Two years ago it was 72 students. Last year it was 106, and for this school year it's already at 46. At the beginning of the year the list begins at zero, and she adds to it as she is informed of homeless students, either by teachers or guidance counselors.
"That number will go up and over 106 before the end of the school year," Baumann-Duren said.
The definition of homeless Baumann-Duren includes students living at a relative's or friend's home because of their family's financial hardship.
With the help of the local nonprofit 6:8, Baumann-Duren arranges food donations for children in the district that families, teacher or guidance counselors have identified as needing extra food during the break.
In each bag was an acorn squash, macaroni and cheese, a box of oatmeal and a $15 gift card, among other food items.
A bag will go home to 50 different families, Baumann-Duren said. She said 6:8 arranged to have each family's bag of food sponsored by a $25 donation.
She said she'll do this again before Christmas break and then again in the spring.
"A lot of families are struggling right now," Baumann-Duren said. "Parents are laid off, and we're in the heating season. This is a great initiative."
To feed a Sauk Prairie student over Christmas break, you may send a $25 check to:
485 Prairie St.
Prairie du Sac, WI 53578
By Jeremiah Tucker, Sauk Prairie Eagle | Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 9:36 am