VIENNA - A group of students from several area schools spent Friday night and will be spending the rest of today in tents and cardboard boxes at the Vienna Kmart to raise money and awareness of homelessness in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
The third annual Battle Against Homelessness had more than 30 kids from sixth grade through high school spending the night out in the elements with only a tent or cardboard boxes for shelter to raise money for and call attention to homelessness, according to event coordinator Chris Clatterbuck.
"We call our youth group Life Teen and we're part of St. Ambrose Catholic Church where this is our service project for the year," Clatterbuck said. "We want to make a difference for a group in the area, not just a few people."
Photo by Jolene Craig
Life Teen youth group members Aaron Mazurkiewicz, 15; Evan French, 16, and Brady Poage, 15, tape up large cardboard boxes to be used by members of the youth group from St. Ambrose Catholic Church Friday evening to begin the third annual Battle Against Homelessness.
Clatterbuck said the youth group chose to use its annual service project to aid the homeless when they realized how many people in the Mid-Ohio Valley live in a tent, a car or without any form of shelter.
"We could rake someone's yard or help out elderly neighbors and it would be appreciated, but we wanted to do something that would help more people and have a bigger impact," Clatterbuck said. "With helping the homeless, we are doing that."
Along with raising money, the Battle Against Homelessness hopes to give the kids a little taste of what it is like to be homeless.
"Doing this gives the kids a bit of an idea of what it's like to be without," said co-organizer Rod Strahler. "This is the first year we've done it where rain is in the forecast and that will be a bit of a difference.
"We've had temperatures in the mid-20s before, but never rain and it will be something a little more harsh to help the kids understand," Strahler said.
The kids began their experiment by building a "shanty town" and camping in the store parking lot around 5 p.m. and will remain there until 5 p.m. today collecting funds that will be donated to the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter.
"We chose the Salvation Army because they provide shelter, food and resources for those in need," Clatterbuck said. "It's a really nice organization that not only gets people off the street, but helps them in other ways that most people don't know about."
This year's goal is to raise more than $4,000.
"Last year we raised just under $4,000 and this year we want to break it," Clatterbuck said.
"We're not going to cure homelessness with this event," Strahler said. "But we hope we can put a dent in it because every little bit people can do will help."