Students Offering Service (SOS) is a group of Volusia County High School students who mentor, coach and bring respite to children and teens living in the homeless family shelter of the Bray and Gillespie Center for Human Services. The program has already recruited twenty-five students to join in providing weekly arts and crafts projects and activities for younger children, and mentoring and coaching for older children and teens. The group is actively recruiting students from all Volusia and Flagler County high schools to participate.
The supplies needed for SOS are funded and will continue to be self-sustaining through business partners the students have recruited. Handmade aprons were prepared for the children to protect their clothing during art activities and activities follow an organized system. Future plans include bringing music and dance into the program. In addition, the group is studying how other shelters have brought therapy pets on weekend to ease the pain of pet separation and for general exposure to a variety of animals.
Life in a homeless shelter can be grim and stressful; the SOS efforts have transformed the lives of the children living there. The children look forward to Saturdays with eager anticipation and for a few hours they are able to have a childhood and the comfort of friendship and companionship thanks to SOS. The parents of the children also have an opportunity or some relief, with the freedom to rest, read or do chores during the hours of the SOS program.