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Underprivileged teens often get overlooked.
“The teens kind of get lost in the shuffle,” said Jo Schantz of Golden. “That really struck our heart strings.”
Thus, Project STAR came to be, serving homeless and unaccompanied teens at Golden High School. The project is the brainchild of Schantz, Joy Bauman, Katie Schmalzel and Kelsey Johnson. It got its start as a conceptual project that the adult women, who call themselves the Green Team, came up with as a graduation requirement for Leadership Golden's 2018/2019 class.
But the group didn't want the project to be just a concept, Schantz said. “We wanted to see this come to life.”
What Project STAR does is collect donations from the community to provide the homeless and unaccompanied teens at Golden High School with the basic necessities they don't have access to. Donations can run the gamut — gift cards to purchase fast food, clothing and school supplies; passes to the Golden Community Center to get access to showers; vouchers to get haircuts or for use at laundromats and even entertainment venues.
“Being a teenager is hard enough as it is,” Bauman said, adding non-the-less being hungry or worrying about where you will sleep at night. “It's commendable that they're staying in school. I'd like to do whatever I can to help them stay in school.”
Along the way of getting Project STAR launched, the Green Team got connected with Julie Dalrymple, 15, a sophomore at Golden High who had recently launched her own homeless assistance project, Need for Clean.
Students were assigned to come up with a passion project in Milo Carpenter's ninth-grade honors English class, Dalrymple said. It was Carpenter who “pushed me to take a little idea and turn it into something big,” Dalrymple said.
Need for Clean collects toiletries — travel sized shampoo and soaps, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, etc. — and some clothing, such as socks, and provides them to students in need at Golden High School.
“It seemed like a good pairing,” Bauman said of the partnership that has now formed between Need for Clean and Project STAR.
Both Need for Clean and Project STAR provides the students in need with their necessities confidentially by working with Golden High School councilor Wendy Wyckoff.
“Making it discreet is essential,” Dalrymple said. “Teens don't want their friends to think less of them because of their situation.”
There are 42 identified homeless or unaccompanied teens at Golden High School, Schantz said, adding the school councilors believe there may be many more.
“People might not recognize (homelessness) is an issue in our community,” Schantz said. But now that the word has spread, the response to Need for Clean and Project STAR has been phenomenal, she added. “People in our community have big hearts.”
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