Homeless ... for a night

The youth who participated at the Ben Heyda, Cassidy Gilbertson, Georgia Pumper, Miranda Crosby, Hayley Dietz, Diego Carrasquillo, (back) Luke Mader and Alex Mader. Missing from the photo is Maddie Gilberson. (Wade Young Photo)

On any given night, there are thousands of people who have no place to call home. Some of these homeless families find temporary shelter with friends or in weekly motels. Some sleep in their cars. Some have no choice but to sleep outside.
Members of the St. John Lutheran Church Youth League (grades six to 12) and  Boy Scouts Troop #322 raised awareness for homelessness from Saturday to Sunday, November 9 to 10. The youth, along with some adult chaperones, were “homeless for a night” when they slept outside the church  in cardboard boxes. 
The youth were only allowed to bring a few items to protect themselves in their boxes: a flash light, water bottle, sleeping bag and blankets, pillow, toothbrush and toothpaste, snowpants, winter clothing. 
For Cassidy Gilberson and Hayley Dietz, the night was a familiar one. They had participated in the same activity last year. 
With temperatures dipping into the 20s during the night, how did the girls do? How did this year compare to last year.
“This year was better than last year,” Gilberson said. “It didn’t rain this year.”
Gilbertson and Dietz, along with other girls from St. John’s, Maddie Gilberson, Georgia Pumper, and Miranda Crosby, made the best of the situation. When they created their house out of boxes with a tarp and duct tape, they built a five-room cardboard condo that kept the girls warm during the night.
“For the most part we stayed warm,” Gilberson said.
For the Boy Scouts, it was like camping, according to chaperone Bruce Heyda, who accompanied the boys with Scoutmaster, Paul Turgeon.
It wasn’t all good times, however. For St. John Youth organizer Emily Hoefs who also endured the night, it was a cold, brutal realization that many people call that type of hard life a reality. She volunteered to watch the fire during the night and only lasted one and a half hours outside before she took refuge in her freezing car.
“I slept no more than 20 minutes at a time,” she said. “My fingers and toes were so cold. When I went to sleep in my car, I didn’t want to move because the warm air would escape. And I had multi-layers on. I was prepared. I don’t know how anyone is able to do it.”
The youth and adults also ate a small dinner on Saturday night and a small breakfast on Sunday morning.  They also sent any donated food and monetary donations to the Montgomery Food Shelf.