Some homeless students are left in a bind when schools close for the holidays, but a local organization steps up to help them every year.
The Southern Oklahoma Board of Realtors provides thousands of dollars’ worth of restaurant gift cards for Ardmore City Schools’ unaccompanied homeless students to get them through the holiday breaks. Jenni Vanbuskirk, the 2019 board president, said the program began about five years ago.  
“I ran into (ACS Homeless Coordinator Sabra Emde), I don’t even remember where it was,” Vanbuskirk said. “It was just before Thanksgiving that year, and we talked about kids that didn’t have places to have meals over holiday break.”
The realtors met with Emde and raised about $700 to provide gift cards for unaccompanied homeless students for Thanksgiving break. Next, they got a second Christmas project approved for the same year and did the same thing.
“We started raising money from that point on, and we’ve done it ever since,” Vanbuskirk said.
A few years later, they began raising money for the program at the organization’s annual Christmas banquet and auction. This year, they raised around $7,000 for 32 students from Ardmore Middle and High School, as well as Take Two Academy. Community businesses donated auction items and baskets along with monetary donations.
“They have kind of a variety, because we don’t know if they have cars to drive or not,” Vanbuskirk said.
Emde said she told the organization to keep the issue of transportation in mind when they first began the program.
“The board has done a fabulous job in determining how to best do this every year,” Emde said.“When I deliver these cards every year these kids are just so excited.”
The students can choose to send a Thank You card, which Emde delivers back to the board.
“We got a note last year from a child who said, ‘This is the first time I’ve ever gotten a Christmas gift,” Emde said.
Kim Schreibvogel and her husband Dennis planned the auction this year. She said roughly 120 people attended the annual event.  
“We went to those who’d helped before and to newcomers,” Schreibvogel said. “We had the idea this year for them to donate a themed basket to auction off. The people come ready to give their money at this auction.”