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Kids Doing Good Stuff: Mad dash to help at Madison

This class at Madison High School worked to help ease the homeless problem in Portland. (KATU Photo)

Before the school year wrapped up, a history class at Madison High School was doing more than dusting off details of yesteryear, it was helping people today.

“For our final project, we’ve been trying to give back to the community, because that’s sort of the point of this class is to engage in Portland,” said Eleanor Clark, a student at Madison.

The students voted on doing a class project, and the homeless epidemic in the city impacted them the most, especially when they learned about who’s homeless.

“Just in Madison alone, there’s about 67 kids who are homeless or couch surfing -- probably don’t have a stable housing situation -- so building just one more shelter could be the difference for one of them,” said student Benjamin Folger.

After plenty of research, the kids started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for organizations that provide aid, specifically Portland’s Village Coalition.

The students also helped build tiny homes for the new Right to Dream Too location near the Rose Quarter.

“I learned about different things, how much the population is, how many women, children and homeless people we have, how many homeless people or students go to our school and different kinds of schools, and how they’re being supports,” said student Nasir Khan.

While their goal was to help the most vulnerable members of our community, they also learned a lesson about how they can create impact.

“It’s a lot easier than you might think to get engaged in your community,” Clark said. “You think, you know, I can’t reach out to these groups, they’re not going to listen to me, but it’s not nearly as hard it seems. … Just reach out. Talk to organizations, talk to homeless organizations – they want volunteers.”

The lessons the kids learned in class will likely last a lifetime.

“I think a lot of it is just lack of awareness,” said Folger. “Not a lot of people in our class even knew about many of the issues that we talked about, and I doubt many in the school know about it, either. So, I think a lot more can be done with just education and raising awareness about it.”

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