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Children in Poverty

<span style="font-size: small">Hunger proved to be one of the main topics at KOLR 10&#39;s townhall meeting Thursday evening.&nbsp; Dozens of people came out for the Children in Poverty forum at Remington&#39;s in Springfield. </span><br />
TownHallMeeting2007-11-15-1195182809.jpgHunger proved to be one of the main topics at KOLR 10's townhall meeting Thursday evening.  Dozens of people came out for the Children in Poverty forum at Remington's in Springfield.

Here in the Ozarks, nearly 600 people on any given night need refuge and children make up more than half of that number.  Speaking of numbers, the average age of these homeless children is around 10 in the Ozarks.  So how do we break this cycle of poverty?

Bob Higbee has worked all of his life. Yet finding work came hard in recent years after some medical troubles.

"I always made it on my own. And it hurts to even go to the food pantries. It bothers me. But I go for my kids." says Higbee.

With three little kids at home, Higbee and his family make up a growing number of Ozarks families hurting for food, shelter and even clothing.
 
"The other day, we had a family coming to a parenting class. And at the last minute, they didn't come. So we called to find out why they didn't turn up, because they had come three previous times. Do you know what the answer is? I mean this is just so sad to me. They said, we couldn't come, because we couldn't bring all the kids because two of them didn't have shoes to wear. We switch off wearing the shoes. That's here in Springfield!" says Melissa Haddow, Community Partnership of the Ozarks and a member of the town hall panel.

TownHallMeeting32007-11-15-1195182895.jpgPanelists agreed that many lower income families carry a stigma of not being willing to work. They say that's just not true. In fact, those here say many are working second and even third jobs to make ends meet.
 
"There's a great love there. It's just they don't have the resources to provide the kind of things a healthy family needs." says Bill Stalnaker, The Kitchen.  

Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore adds, "They don't need fancy tennis shoes and they don't need all the fancy toys. They just need some adult to look them in the eye and say you are a person of value. You have a future and I think that would go a long, long way."

That was one of the main themes Thursday night.  Panelists say while private donations of time and money are always helping those less fortunate, sometimes just boosting a child's self-esteem can help further their education.

Of course, there's a lot of other factors to helping.  Some say the government needs to offer more programs that can help people get ahead.  Others say, private organizations need to step up.  Click here for ways you can help.

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