POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - Back in October, Idaho State instructor Melissa Caudle our news story about a homeless man that died in Pocatello's Simplot Square due to exposure of frigid temperatures.
The story struck a cord with Caudle, and she wanted to take the tragic circumstance and make it a teaching tool.
"I canceled lecture the next day and showed that clip to my class, and we had a really great discussion about homelessness and housing insecurity," Caudle said. "We discussed how it occurs and what can be done in Idaho and in our nation.
Caudle's class then spent the whole period brainstorming.
"First, we thought of a coat drive, which is important and would serve a need, but I encouraged the students to think bigger and think of something that would be more sustainable and make a longer impact in someone's life," Caudle said.
The students settled on the idea of transition boxes, containers with supplies that would be extremely beneficial to those moving out of the Aid for Friends homeless shelter in Pocatello.
"We just started composing a list with the things that they need," said Public Health Student Association President Stephanie Edwards. "They need pillows and a pillow case and a blanket. We included just simple cleaning supplies."
Aid for Friends shelter manager Tammy Moore has already noticed the impact made by the transition boxes.
"Having things like these, these buckets with a starter kit for them when they find housing, it’s extra motivation, because we’ll help supply them with what they need when they get their new place," Moore said. "So, anything that will help somebody at getting into their new place is always needed.
Caudle said its terrific to see her students take the time to help out the local vulnerable population.
"It's so great when students can take the things that they're learning in a classroom, and put it to use and benefit the community," Caudle said.
But for Edwards, the fight against housing insecurity here in southeast Idaho continues.
"There’s people living in hotels and there's people at the shelter and once that relief is out, where do these people go," Edwards said. "So, I think our job as a community just is not done. It starts here, but we need to continue.
The students donated a total of 15 boxes to Aid for Friends, with each box containing over $100 worth of items.