• Nearly 2,000 students identify as homeless in Shelby County, here's how you can help

    By: Siobhan Riley

    Updated:

    SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. - The MLK Prep student gaining national attention after his classmates donated clothes and shoes because he was bullied is not homeless, but he’s like so many families in our area struggling to make ends meet. 

    Shelby County Schools battles the same problem. There is something you can do to help low income and homeless students.  

    At the House of Mtenzi, they see a number of SCS parents who are homeless or one paycheck away from losing everything and sleeping on the streets.

    Donating something as simple as toiletries could help these families.

    “You can get a job interview when you fill out the application, we want to make sure that you’re groomed enough that they’ll want to give you the job,” said Faharra Farmer, a volunteer with the House of Mtenzie in Midtown.

    Shaving gel, toothpaste, and toilet tissue makes a difference to a child living on the streets in Shelby County.

    “Toilet tissue is even though they’re out there like that, this is something that’s still needed,” Farmer said.

    Farmer volunteers every week at the House of Mtenzi in Midtown where a number of homeless families, including mothers with their children seek help.

    “When you think of toiletries, think of this place and what we’re doing because the more toiletries we have, the more people we can help.”


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    FOX13 met Samantha Turner there in July. She was coming to get supplies for her three children. We first introduced you about Turner in August.  

    She was homeless four years ago while pregnant with little Ronaldis, who just started Pre-k this year in Shelby County Schools.

    “Right here, this is where we slept in this little space, this is where we slept.”

    Last month we reported the number of homeless students in our area continues to increase. In May there were 1,940 students who identified as homeless or unaccompanied according to SCS.  

    That’s up 588 students from the year before. 

    “Who wants that for their child, these kids come from homes that’s not prepared for situations like that,” Farmer said.

    SCS has homeless specialists to support children. The district also supplies meals, school supplies, and transportation to homeless students. 

    The House of Mtenzi hosts several festivals a year to help families get back on their feet.

    “They pretty much got all the things they needed. Kids involved as well and great situation to be able to do something like that with people going through,” Farmer explained.

    The House of Mtenzi is always in need of toiletries.  

    Right now, they are low on toothbrushes. You are welcome to drop off supplies to their office on Madison.

    They are also asking that you only donate clothes the day before they have their major festivals.

    You can drop off toiletries at 1289 Madison Avenue.

    On October 19th at 7:00 p.m., Mtenzi will host its 24th annual Stone Awards at Buckman Arts Theatre at 60 Perkins Ext. 

    The money they raise helps cover expenses used to assist the homeless population in Shelby County throughout the year.

    For more information, call 901-273-5038.

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