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Nebo district taking care of students in need

Jan 11, 2016 02:31PM

There are currently 1,400 homeless children within Nebo School District. Fortunately, Nebo employees like Monica Hullinger are there to help.

Hullinger is a social worker in the district’s Student Services department where she helps provide children in need with clothing and food. But she does much more than that: she also helps provide assistance to children who are struggling with social problems or even family emergencies.

Many children have both parents working, sometimes at three jobs. Hullinger said they have to “rob Peter to pay Paul.” They simply aren’t earning enough money to make ends meet. With the recent hard economic times, some families haven’t recovered yet. There are also many migrant families in the area with children. Some of the families will live in campgrounds during the summer months to save money. Then when winter hits, they move indoors. Sometimes multiple families will live in one residence. The children of these families have many issues that need to be addressed.

Some students relocate from a warm climates during winter and don’t have any cold-weather clothing. Many of the students have basic clothing needs such as coats and socks.

The community assists in meeting these needs. For example, The Springville High School FFA raised a pig which it later donated to a food bank to aid needy families. Landmark High School students help stock and maintain the Nebo School District food bank. Many needed clothing items like prom dresses and suits are donated for students who otherwise would not be able to afford dress clothes. Basics like toilet paper, soap and shampoo are donated by the community. Food donations come from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Kiwanis Sub-for-Santa program and the community. Backpacks with food are given out daily to the students who need food at home.

Sometimes the need is a bit different. Hullinger said a male high school student in the district had his mother pass away two years ago. Then his father passed away recently. The student had no idea how to arrange a funeral for his dad. Hullinger networked with her community contacts and was able to secure the burial plot next to the boy’s mother. arrange for a coffin and help the student lay his father to rest for only $200 dollars. This was a community effort made possible by many.

In addition to physical needs, students sometimes need a way to learn coping skills and how to bounce back and overcome problems. Hullinger said she would like to bottle resiliency and hand it out to each student. “Bad things happen, students have sad times and can feel left out of society. We need to teach them to handle failure. Children need to feel bumps in the road so they can pick themselves up. Students need to learn to overcome and handle life’s problems. Failures help make them stronger youth,” she said.

Hullinger said one student was so driven to succeed that she was upset by getting 97 percent on a test. She always got 100 percent on every test. Though 97 percent was still an A, she felt like a failure. Some students can be so driven to succeed, that any failure, even a mild one, can cause major stress in their lives. Students sometimes act out inappropriately. Stress at school can lead to suicide, especially during the holiday season. Some students wish to graduate early and already work full time. Some children have social issues that need to be addressed.

Nebo School District uses many different tactics to teach children resiliency. Role playing is used to address many social issues such as bullying, and better ways to communicate.

For information on how to help these students in need, contact Monica Hullinger at [email protected]