East students sleep in cardboard boxes
It's 10 p.m. on a Friday. Do you know where your children are? For over 65 parents of East High school students the answer to that question Oct. 14 was, in a cardboard box outside the high school stadium. Students from the Duluth East Key club se...
It's 10 p.m. on a Friday. Do you know where your children are? For over 65 parents of East High school students the answer to that question Oct. 14 was, in a cardboard box outside the high school stadium.
Students from the Duluth East Key club set up refrigerator boxes outside the East High School stadium and settled in for the night as part of the "Camp in a Box" fundraiser.
"Sleeping in a box isn't fun. Your back hurts, you're cold. It's not comfortable. It's not ideal. But we can do it for one night," said East senior Clara Baker. "I have no idea what it's like trying to survive every single day like this. Without a home, without warm clothes, without the necessities that I take for granted everyday. So spending one night in a box really does help open my eyes."
The students sleep outside in cardboard boxes to better understand what it means to be homeless, to raise awareness for homeless teens and to fundraise.
Each student must raise at least $25 for the event, but most students raise more, according to Key club president Emma Flynn. The students raised over $2,000.
"All the money raised goes to Life House, an organization which advocates for homeless youth in the Duluth area," Flynn said.
Flynn has participated in the event for the past three years. She says it's important to her because she wants to help her fellow students.
"In high school, you never know what someone's personal situation is. You don't know where your classmates go after school. They might not have someplace to go," Flynn said. "As a fellow classmate, I think it's our responsibility to help each other out whenever we can."
The event is a "BYOB" event, meaning "Bring Your Own Box." The students are responsible for calling local furniture and appliance stores to get their boxes for the night. Baker said this feat was more difficult than she had thought.
"I went to so many stores looking for boxes. I'd walk in and they'd see me and go, 'Yeah, we're out of boxes,'" Baker said. "But I finally got my refrigerator box, so I'm good."
Flynn said several local appliance and furniture stores, such as Johnson Mertz, Daugherty's and Sears, donate boxes to the cause.
"They know we do this every year and they're very willing to contribute boxes," Flynn said.
The weather exceeded expectations this year and was unusually mild for the season, dropping to 51 degrees at the lowest point. Students were prepared with tarps and warm clothing in case they had to battle the elements.
"It's a blessing, for sure," Flynn said. "In the years that I've been doing this, we've had it drizzle. And one year we had to cancel the staying over night part because the temperature dropped to dangerously cold."
The teens spent most of the evening playing games, including a riff-off, a singing game inspired by the film "Pitch Perfect."
Before bed, Flynn brought the group together to focus on why they were all there. "Tomorrow, after you sleep here, we can all go back to our houses and probably get some real sleep. But keep in mind that some people don't have that luxury," Flynn said.
Before the event, the club brought in Maude Dornfeld, executive director of Life House, to share information on teen homelessness in Duluth. She also shared what the money raised from this event will be spent on, primarily move-in kits. Move-in kits provide basic necessities such as towels and pillows to teens when they find permanent shelter.
"These are basic things that we take for granted, but they're also the things that help make a house a home," Flynn said.