On Nov. 18, St. Francis Xavier CYO members participated in “One Night Without a Home,” a hunger and homeless awareness event to help youth and donors realize the difficulties that the homeless and hungry face daily.
The goal was to eliminate the myth that “hunger and homelessness is someone else’s problem,” CYO moderator Dawn Sisung said.
Twenty-five members slept outside on cardboard, in boxes or tents and were not allowed to use electronics (cell phones, laptops, iPods). In the early part of the evening, donations of food, toiletries, coats, jackets, hats, gloves, socks, baby wipes, dry goods and paper products were collected for Deacon Ed’s Food Bank in the parish and St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“Being homeless isn’t great,” eighth grader Amelia Bodet said. “It doesn’t mean you get free clothes or food. I’ve never experienced it until now. We are doing this with the CYO to be aware that people are living like this in real life. It’s a scary thing to think about, to live, to experience and even to hear about. It’s hard to see what people go through in life being homeless. Most aren’t teenagers or infants, they’re adults. We might see them, pass by, and ignore, but God does not want that.
“God wants us to accept all people. That is why our CYO is doing this. We also worked for food, made soup mix for our food bank, sorted products and listened to guest speakers.
“We were awakened by state troopers around midnight. Imagine how homeless people react to this daily. It’s hard to sleep when you have no comfort, no silence, no warmth or coolness. Having this experience makes us realize what life can do to us if we make a wrong choice.”
Exercise in thankfulness
St. Francis seventh grader Rowley Redmann gave his take.
“We decided to spend the night out without any of our luxuries (cell phone, radio, pillows, heaters, and the security of our home) to experience what homelessness really is like,” he said. “But, we knew the next night we were going back to our nice comfortable beds and have our cell phones back to text our friends. So, could we really know what it is like to be homeless?
“We slept in a box, and there was no food after 6:45 p.m. We had to share a bathroom, and we had to drink from a bathroom faucet, which I realize is more than most homeless have. It was hard to go to sleep because of the hard ground, the noise of the traffic from Metairie Road and the strange surroundings. Our belongings (boxes and jackets) were wet from the humidity. We had no pillows, and my neck hurt in the morning.
“The police harassed us because we were sleeping on private property. This event was extremely moving to me because a lot of people live like this everyday. It taught me that we should be thankful for what we have because the homeless and the needy don’t have the food and comforts we enjoy. Most importantly, treat people the way Jesus would want you to treat them. At any time, this could happen to you.”