The 177 homeless students in Copperas Cove Independent School District will have a brighter holiday thanks to the generous donations from Metroplex Hospital employees.

In a joint school drive to provide gifts for homeless students in Cove, Killeen and Harker Heights, the hospital held a two-week toy drive where employees and volunteers brought in toys, games, blankets, coats, hygiene items, and more for the students.

“We had toys stashed everywhere,” said Shelley Humphrey, Metroplex public relations specialist. “It was crazy.”

This is the hospital’s second year to conduct the drive with its “Blessing Tree,” Humphrey said. Tags for 200 children were placed on the tree with specific items needed.

“(The toy drive) is fun for our employees,” Humphrey said. “They take their own kids to buy the gifts and make it a family event.”

Shelley Brown of the CCISD McKinney-Vento Program said the number of children receiving gifts more than tripled compared to last year.

“It’s way more than we received last year,” Brown said. “We were able to help 30 kids last Christmas and will be able to serve well over 100 kids this year.”

The items will be distributed to students through the Communities in Schools program.

Brown said 177 children in CCISD are considered homeless. The information is gathered during the school registration process and during the year through referrals by teachers, counselors and other students.

“Our homeless students are those living in shelters, motels, doubled up with another family, or even living in their cars,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, we have even had some students who have lived on the street.”

Brown said the number of homeless children has decreased from 220 last year to 150 this year. She said some found housing and others are no longer in the school system.

Contact Wendy Sledd at or (254) 501-7476

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