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Local homeless students can easily fall through cracks

CHAMPAIGN -- Mason Hurtado is an athletic boy with an enormous smile and neatly trimmed hair. He is a sixth-grader at Franklin Middle School in Champaign, where he takes college preparatory classes and participates in chess club, basketball and, come January, wrestling.

Inside the classroom, he looks just like any of his peers. But when he leaves school at the end of the day, Mason heads home to a two-room apartment filled to the ceiling with clothes, toys and other pieces of his family’s life from before they were homeless.

The News-Gazette/ Mason Vaughn,13, and his mother Debra in their room at Restoration Urban Ministries on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009.In back are Mason's sisters Victoria, 9, and Asharie, 2.

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