By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- When people think of Tulsa's homeless, they generally think of grown-ups, not teenagers, but there are hundreds of kids, who have no real place to call home. Many of them end up in the shelter run by Tulsa Youth Services. There was a Christmas party at the shelter on Thursday night.
The News On 6 can't show their faces or tell you their names, but we can tell you the homeless and runaway teenagers have been through more trials and tribulations than many grown-ups.
"They go from home to home, many sleep under bridges or alleyways. Some kids, we hear stories, even try to sleep at the schools until we find them and bring them here and find them a place to go," said Shelter Director Dana Thompson.
Yet, on one night, they are laughing, eating homemade cookies and picking out presents from under a Christmas tree, all thanks to RSVP, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and FACES, Families and Communities Empowered for Safety.
It started with an idea to teach the troubled kids how to crochet.
Volunteers crochet 250 hope blossoms every week to give to people in domestic violence situations, as a sign of hope and solace. The volunteers decided to teach the shelter kids how to crochet the blossoms and it's been huge hit with boys and girls alike for the past six months.
"They could make these blossoms to give to friends when they're sad or put in their pocket to know they're cared for and have a place to come. It's been amazing," said volunteer Sherry Clark.
Each teen also got to choose a handmade hat and scarf: a reminder to them that somebody knows about them and cares.
"Homeless and runaway youth nobody even knows they exist. They know their parents do, but often you don't hear about the kids. They fall to the wayside," said Shelter Director Dana Thompson.
The kids may not have a place to call home, but they know, thanks to crocheting lessons, they have a permanent place in the volunteers' hearts.
The Tulsa Youth Services Shelter serves kids from 12 to 18 years old and has 20 beds. It's a temporary stay with the goal of getting them into a stable environment. So far, 760 kids have been served by the shelter this year.