• 52°

Jessamine County parent, former police officer aiming to help homeless students 

By Shelby Lofton

WKYT

Back to school is in full swing for Jessamine County students, but one parent noticed something that caught his attention on the first day of class.

Scott Harvey has a 16-year-old daughter who was running late, but he still stopped to grab a picture for the first day.

“I went into the gym, which is my normal routine, and in the gym parking lot, I look over and I see a little girl who’s waiting for the school bus,” Harvey said.

That little girl had bright eyes and a brand-new backpack, waiting at a hotel.

“Having worked for the schools as a DARE officer, I knew the only way you get a school bus to pick you up at a hotel parking lot is if you’re homeless,” Harvey said.

Harvey said seeing her there didn’t sit right with him.

“It bothered me, this perfect picture, this Norman Rockwell painting, was just in the wrong setting,” Harvey said. “Very similar to the picture I just took, just wasn’t in a home,”

He reached out to the Jessamine County School District.

“Those students need people constantly checking on them,” the district’s homeless liaison Shainey Marcus said.

Jessamine Schools serve more than 350 students experiencing homelessness each year. Education dollars don’t cover all of the costs to help them.

“Unfortunately, sometimes we can see the student that doesn’t have everything that every other student has,” Marcus said. “We don’t want that to be a barrier to my students for learning.”

With Marcus’ blessing, Harvey launched a movement after witnessing that moment.

“I put the call out on social media and said, ‘let’s start buying gift cards,’” Harvey said.

His followers responded to the call.

“I just hope they feel seen, they feel appreciated, and they feel loved,” Harvey said.

“You really, truly never do know what the person sitting next to you is going through,” Marcus said.

If you’d like to help, checks can be made out to the Jessamine County Homeless Education Program and mailed to Central Office, 871 Wilmore Rd., Nicholasville, KY 40356.

You can also Venmo @SpeakingofHarvey and he’ll turn any Venmo donation into a gift card for their greatest needs.