Event gives homeless children some holiday spirit

FRESNO, Calif.

The homeless liaison with the school district says there are 2,700 homeless kids in Fresno County. She says that's 400 more homeless children than last year. The school district considers children homeless is they live in an unstable environment such as shelters, motels or cars.

Freddy Duarte and his cousin Nicholas Balero were busy having fun on Sunday's Hope for the Holidays event. "We said "Hi" to Santa, we saw the fire truck and cops," said Duarte.

Many children at the party would not have received presents this year without attending the event. Misty Wentz says her 3 year-old would be one of them. "I would love to have a stable environment for her and get her anything she wants but it's hard for me to even get a meal for her right now."

Hope for the Holidays started in 1988 when social workers realized the children living in shelters had no holiday celebration. Laura Tanner-McBrien is one of the organizers and works with homeless children in the Fresno Unified School district. Tanner-McBrien said, "With the economy the way it is and not being able to find jobs, we have parents without incomes and sometimes they get trapped into the motel situation when you pay weekly and all of your money goes towards your rent. "

Timothy Hinson and his eight children live in a motel but have experience life out on the street. Hinson says, "Living out there on the streets is hard. It's struggling. It would have been okay if we didn't have kids but out there now it's too cold for kids."

Organizers say about 1,400 homeless kids and families attended this year's party. The School District says they are already accepting donations for next year's event.

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