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Partners in Education: Silent Night

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Photo: Video by nbc26.com

Partners in Education: Silent Night

By Brie Groves. CREATED Jan 14, 2014

GREEN BAY, WI --Homelessness is a growing problem in northeast Wisconsin and in schools it often divides students. But two rival schools in Green Bay are coming together to fight the problem.

It definitely goes beyond just a one night event, but this past weekend Green Bay West and East high schools worked together as they hosted the second annual Silent Night event, raising money, food and other essentials for their peers in need.

"Just before the event when everyone is silent you can just hear the coaches talking you can hear the shoes squeaking on the floor then all the sudden you hear this loud roar," said Dylan Bielen a Green Bay West Senior.

Green Bay East and Green Bay West... the two have been rivals for more than a 100 years, but for one night each year, their on the same team.

"We want to do everything we can to help these kids because they deserve an equal opportunity and they deserve all the resources and items that they need," Shaina Dodson, a Green Bay West Senior.

So as part of what has become known as Silent Night, the two schools come together to end the silence about homelessness and hunger in our area.

"The baskets and promoting it we want to bring as many people as possible to just help everyone in our school because it's just such a big problem," said student council adviser, Bonnie Wallberg.

So big in fact, that 79 % of Green Bay West students are currently on free and reduced lunches, and more than 1000 are classified as homeless or unaccompanied throughout the district.

"It's a daily battle that we're trying to overcome and to make sure the kids have everything they need because if they don't how can we possibly teach in the classroom," said Wallberg.

Silent night is part of the McIney Vento program that provides essentials like coats, blankets, and hygiene products for homeless students in the district..

"Just those simple items that you're giving them, it just makes a huge difference in their lives," said Green Bay West senior, John Krueger.

But in order to get those simple things, money has to come from the district.

"So without fundraisers supporting the homeless and unaccompanied youth, McIney Vento does not have the funds to support those students and provide a level playing field for our kids who are more at risk," said student council adviser, Lisa Merkel.

Donations are needed all the time.

"Anytime we find we have an extra jacket.,we bring it in here and make sure our students or any feeder school has access to that," said Merkel.

Much of it sparked by those directly in need.

"This is when you see the really great things that you don't grade. It's not a test it's not anything and this is character and these kids have a ton of it, and it warms my heart," said Wallberg.

At the game the two schools raised a total of $4000, a closet full of blankets and hygiene products, and 50 boxes of food.