At her previous school, Kyrene de la Sierra Elementary Principal Tracey Pastor saw the reality of working with homeless students.

She worked at Bethune Elementary, 1310 S. 15th Ave., in Phoenix near the Watkins Basic Needs Shelter in downtown Phoenix. She said the school had about 100 homeless students who needed the support of Watkins.

"It was near and dear to my heart," Pastor said.

On Friday, the staff and students of Sierra participated in "Double Lunch Day," in honor of the National Day of Service. Students brought in 368 sack lunches to be donated to Watkins, along with several extra boxes of food. The lunches, distributed at the shelter that day, also included handwritten notes from the Sierra students.

"They were so grateful at the shelter when we dropped the lunches off," Pastor said. "The day was definitely a success."

For a group of Girl Scouts, it was not the first time they had volunteered to help the homeless.

"I wrote ‘I hope you can recover' on my note," said fifth-grade student Morgan Foster. "I feel sad that they are homeless but I also feel like I can help. I will do everything I can to help. That's what being a Girl Scout is all about."

Last year, Pastor said they collected approximately 300 pairs of shoes that were donated to the homeless shelter.

Watkins Basic Needs Shelter is part of UMOM New Day Shelters, 3320 E. Van Buren St., which was established in 1964 by the United Methodist Church. During the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Watkins served 958 single women and 1,723 family members.

To find out more, visit their website,

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