Reporting Holly Wagner
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The chill of fall and freeze of winter is not the kind of weather you’d want to spend a lot of time outside in.
While many were nice and toasty inside their homes Thursday, some teenagers in the Twin Cities were outside hoping to knock out homelessness.
About 675 kids and adults spent the night sleeping in cardboard boxes to raise money and awareness for those families without a home.
“When I was telling people to pack for this … I was like, ‘If you think you packed enough clothes or blankets, you didn’t. Pack more,’” said Taylor Mills, a senior at Hill-Murray High School.
They set up their “cardboard city” at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
The annual Sleep Out, Rock Out and Knock Out Homelessness event is getting teens to listen up and learn the tough conditions of having to spend a night in 30 degree weather.
“It’s hard to say I know what it’s like because it is only one night. But just spending one night makes it, like I said, a personal issue,” said Hannah Smith, a senior, Hill-Murray High School.
In fact, Smith used to be a doubter.
“I was one of the people who thought it’s their fault; whatever I do isn’t going to help. And this event along with a few other things has completely changed my perspective on things,” she said.
Organizations like Families Moving Forward in Minneapolis and Project Home in St. Paul think the sleep outs can help change more people’s perspective. The organizations wish more people would pay attention because homelessness is still on the rise.
“Typically it’s 9,000 (people) every day and every night in Minnesota,” said Felicia Mason Edwards, the director of Families Moving Forward.
Edwards said giving people a glimpse of life on the streets is usually all that it takes.
“What we’re trying to show is that most of the (people) that we see are families — they’re children, they’re teenagers just like them. And we really can make a difference in homelessness,” she said.
This year’s sleep out has the biggest group yet. The teenagers helped raise $16,000.
The money will go to Families Moving Forward and Project Home and will go toward helping people find homes and jobs.