Rita Coburn, Executive Director of Special Services at Nixa Public Schools works hard to combat the cliché.
"That's not what's out there,” explained Coburn. “It's your well dressed and well groomed and well taken care of families. You know, they are probably the ones that are hurting the most."
Coburn and her team help the scores of homeless students in the district. At least, the ones they know about.
"I had a young lady that spent all night at WalMart just kind of wandering around because it was cold out,” said Coburn. “They will find a place to go, it's just not necessarily a safe place and they don't understand some of the dangers out there."
One homeless student who attends a Nixa school shared her story in a letter to KSPR News.
“I’m an 18-year-old female staying in Nixa,” she wrote. “It is not an ideal life being homeless. But it’s what I’ve been given.”
The teenager, who wishes to remain anonymous, would sleep anywhere she could find noting that her bed was the street, in a friend’s car, and the park.
"The constant movement, the constant not knowing where they are at, fearing, I mean it sets kids back,” said Coburn. “Statistics have shown to set kids back several years back in education."
In the letter, the girl said she doesn’t have clean clothes all the time and is self-conscious about the way she looks and smells. She explained she attempted to escape her reality by using drugs and alcohol and even contemplated suicide.
“Sometimes I feel it would just be easier to end my life because people can get tired of the same old thing. Always asking for a place to crash or even just dinner,” the student detailed.
Yet she ends her letter with hope, “I am worth something. Someday things will get better. I hope for that.” Her note is signed with a heart.
Faculty at the Nixa School District provides counseling for the homeless students. Through donations, they give out food, toiletries, and sometimes vouchers for motel rooms. Every Friday, school employees fill backpacks with food for needy students provided by the Care to Learn Foundation. The Nixa High School also hopes to start a food pantry for needy students.
The Christian County Homeless Alliance plans to spread awareness about the homeless situation in Christian County. They will hold a meeting at the Nixa Christian Church on November 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend.