Harker Heights civic and government organizations, churches, businesses and schools combine their efforts every year during November and December by holding fundraisers, clothing and toy drives to provide for the needy.

Some people who need help the most are the ones designated “homeless,” a difficult concept for some to imagine inside the city limits of Harker Heights, “the Bright Star of Central Texas.”

The Killeen Independent School District runs one of the larger organizations that provides help for the homeless. The Homeless Awareness and Response Program serves students at all campuses in the district including four elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school in Harker Heights and Nolanville.

Jennifer Tucker, a homeless mother of six children, learned about the HARP program from some friends of hers.

She has no income and the program has provided shoes, book bags and school supplies for her children.

“They’ve done me a big favor,” she said. “The program has been a blessing and a half for me and my kids.”

According to Killeen ISD officials, about 90 Harker Heights students are enrolled in HARP. The program identifies students in homeless situations and ensures families are aware of their rights under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law passed in 1987 that guarantees a student can enroll in school regardless of their housing status.

HARP services include immediate enrollment in school, free school meals, transportation, school supplies, clothing, hygiene products and referrals to other community agencies in the area.

The Harker Heights Food Care Center is not seasonal in its approach, but it provides people food throughout the year on a continuing basis, helping more than 1,000 people every week.

“The food care center has helped me a great deal in providing food for my family, which includes three grandchildren and my daughter,” said a woman Saturday, who chose not to give her name. “I’m thankful for what they provide and they’re very nice.”

Linda Dawson, the center’s executive director, said they do special drives to collect food and funds to provide Thanksgiving baskets for their patrons.

“We ask our clients to sign-up for one and we try our best to deliver,” she said, adding Thanksgiving baskets will be delivered to people on Monday and Nov. 25.

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