The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Student Council hosts Sleep-in-a-Box fundraiser for homeless shelter

The NW gymnasium Monday night, April 18, was filled with single rooms, combo bungalows and an occasional mansion all constructed from boxes. Among this cardboard village you’ll find something a little more than just a bunch of high school students sleeping on hardwood floors. They gave up sleeping in their own bed for a chance to help the less fortunate in the community.

One hundred and fifty seven students and about 50 sponsors checked in at 8 p.m. to participate in this year’s Sleep-in-a-box event hosted by Student Council. Equipped with large “people sized” boxes that they got at local hardware and department stores (usually leftover refrigerator and appliance packaging), students set up their temporary homes to experience what it’s like to be homeless.

“I really enjoyed it. It was nice to be able to mingle with everyone and it was cool to see how many students at Northwest care about the homeless,” Sleep-in-a-Box participant Morgan Terrill said.

Registration was exclusive; the only people who could participate had to be a part of Amnesty International, CCC, Coaliton, Interact Club, StuCo, Varsity Drill Team and NHS.

“The goal was to include groups geared toward community service and helping others,” Sleep-in-a-Box coordinator Caitlin Chen said.

With a rather chilly night forecasted, participants were encouraged to bring warm clothes and plenty of blankets along with their box. But due to potentially hazardous weather conditions, the fundraiser was moved indoors. Students, however, were still discouraged to bring cell phones and other electronics.

“We’re trying to put ourselves in a homeless person’s shoes, and electronics take away from that experience,” Chen said.

To participate in StuCo’s non-profit event, students donated $40 to the Shalom House and could purchase t-shirts for $10 or hoodies for $20. Combining donations from the recent Care for the Community drive, StuCo raised close to $6500 for the Shalom house, a non-profit organization, that offers homeless men a place to stay.

The Shalom House in Kansas City, Kansas is part of the Northeast Kansas chapter of Catholic Charities, but it is also more than just a shelter. While it does provide a place for 25 men to sleep, it also helps those men get their lives back on track. The Shalom house has a very unique approach; they refer to the men staying there as “guests”, not residents.

“The Shalom House want their guests to recover and get back out into the world, not just stay there forever,” StuCo sponsor Sarah Dent said.

The Shalom House appreciated Northwest putting on the event and was grateful for the donation.

“I thought it was a really good thing. It represented what homeless people go through everyday of their lives,” Shalom House coordinator James Davidson said. “The money is going straight into the operating funds of the house which keeps it running so that it can continue to help people.”

Davidson spoke to all the participants at the event. Not only did he talk about the hardships of homelessness, but he also dismissed many common misconceptions about the homeless. According to Davidson, many are simply down on their luck in this tough economic time, not by their own fault or laziness.

After Davidson spoke, students were given a chance to reflect on just how fortunate their lives are.

“I think that it important that we become aware of how blessed we are to have homes, beds and food. We take so much for granted. When it comes to helping out, we shouldn’t think twice,” Terrill said.

The gymnasium lights never went off (a school safety feature) and the ground was hard. The sleep-deprived participants were easily spotted the next day with bags under their eyes and their Sleep-in-a-box t-shirt. Although sleeping in a temperature controlled school isn’t exactly the same as roughing it on city streets, participants walked away with better understanding of how the other half lives.

“Besides the fact that the gym was lit up the whole night,” Terrill said, “and my back felt broken in three different places the next morning, it was definitely worth it.”

Students from different organizations, including National Honor Society, Varstiy Drill Team, Student Council, Key Club, Coalition, Cougar Community Commitment, Amnesty International and Interact club set up boxes in the main gym Monday evening. The annual Sleep-in-a-Box event was held indoors due to forecasted inclement weather. Photo by Mikala Compton.
Eric Zoellner
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    Clay BoggessApr 26, 2011 at 6:43 am

    It is good to see these students get a small taste of what it is like to be in this situation while giving back to help their cause financially at the same time. Empathy is a good thing.

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Student Council hosts Sleep-in-a-Box fundraiser for homeless shelter