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Signs of a struggling economy are all around us, even at school

Posted: November 10, 2009 10:09 p.m.
Updated: November 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Everywhere we look we can see the effects of our economic woes. Businesses are sacrificing luxuries to save money. Schools are forced to make drastic budget cuts. Each foreclosure sign standing tall on a front lawn is just another example of our seemingly eternal economic stress.

And while there are some of us who have yet to battle this chaotic condition, for others the time of dealing with a failing economy is upon them. There are families voluntarily giving up a few grocery items a week and other extra amenities, and then there are families forced out of their homes and and left to rely on shelters for food and a place to sleep.

Though you may not realize it, there are homeless people in Santa Clarita and it is closer than you think.

Students may have noticed a residency form filled out and signed by parents at the beginning of the school year asking families to verify the type of shelter in which they reside. As I looked upon this form, it was clear to me that there is a very real and disheartening possibility of teens attending Canyon High School who, under the question of "current place of residency," have a parent checking the box "car or automobile."

Though it is more common that the person standing next to you is living a casual comfortable life, there is also the possibility of that person being forced to eat a meal at the local homeless shelter the night before, due to circumstances beyond their control.

"These residency forms filled out at the beginning of the year are used and required statewide," explained Canyon Assistant Principal Andy Keyn. "They help determine if a student is in need of services due to homelessness."

Last year, the number of homeless students attending Canyon was four. This year the number drastically jumped to 12. This makes it extremely clear that these truly are trying times for families across the country.

Those who are struggling financially need as much help as possible. There are many things we can do to help our neighbors and peers in these desperate times. Donating to local food shelters is a big way to help. But there also are organizations like Angel Food Ministries, which gives an abundance of nutritional food for a low price.

Angel Food Ministries is an amazing program that is helping to provide food relief to more than 500,000 families each month. According to its Web site, the Angel Food Program is able to provide a week's worth of quality food for a family of four that would regularly cost about $65 for only $30.

Angel Food Ministries is open to all and there are no restrictions on the amount a family can receive. Founders Joe and Linda Wingo have also organized a food stamp program that allows low-income families to gain the nutrition they deserve.

Local Angel Food Ministry locations are at the Valencia United Methodist Church as well as the Acton Community Presbyterian Church.

Financial struggle and homelessness in Santa Clarita are all too real. In stressful times like these, it is always in the best interest to be considerate and aware of the situations of your peers. It is also crucial for those who are not dealing with such financial stress to be thankful for even the smallest luxuries that we have.

Even though we may live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the loss of a home and a place of comfort from the outside world only show the room our nation has for improvement.

Juliana Menchaca is a senior at Canyon High School.

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