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High school students settle for cardboard roofs over their heads

By: Danelle Wacker The Press Tribune
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This month, a group of high school students were thinking inside the box, literally. In order to raise money and awareness for the homeless population in Roseville, students from Independence and Oakmont high schools slept in cardboard boxes all night. “We wanted to not exactly replicate, but to emphasize how lucky we are to have a home and roof over our heads as well as raise money for those not as fortunate,” said Independence School advisor Gary Fry. The Kids in a Box event included 30 students who were willing to brave the elements in a cardboard box for one night. Participants were required to bring a $30 donation for Roseville Home Start as well as provide their own box. “It’s a strange feeling to think about sleeping at your school,” said Oakmont senior Alex Stubblefield. Independence High School student Grace Snook, who was the driving force behind the box night said she had heard about the idea from some students at Tracy High School. “We decided to join with Oakmont to make the event a bigger success,” she said. In order to create a festive atmosphere, students were encouraged to decorate their boxes in creative ways. “I decided to decorate mine with a simple collage of things that I like and that represent me,” said Oakmont freshman Aria Sherazee. As the night began and boxes were assembled, some students said they were apprehensive about staying out all night without the comforts of home. “I was starting to get worried about how cold it will be,” said junior Austin Murray of Independence. “I can’t imagine having to do this every night.” While the event was held primarily to raise awareness about the homeless in Roseville, several students said they were drawn to the event by the social aspect. “I figured it would be a fun way to hang out with friends,” said Oakmont freshman Colin Westmoreland. In an effort to keep the students occupied all night, a wide array of activities were conducted. “We wanted the event to be a learning experience, but also fun so they would return the next year,” said Oakmont adviser Sondra Myles. “We made sure to have plenty of things to keep them occupied. We had chips, courtesy of donations from Chili’s, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and an outdoor movie.” Apart from the fun and games, Roseville Home Start office administrator Rhonda Kenny gave a presentation about what Home Start offers its clients. “It’s great to see these students giving up their evening to benefit the community,” Kenny said. “It’s especially great since Home Start always needs donations, what with the economy being how it is.” Roseville Home Start is a refurbished motel made to house 27 families at any given time. Families go through an application process and can stay in the program for two years, one year on campus and one year at their own place. According to Kenny, the application rates have been up and more families are being turned down. “This event will not only make students aware of the condition that homeless people live with, but it will hopefully urge them to do more to help out,” she said. After it was all over several students commented on how fortunate they are. “Sleeping in a box was very cramped. I couldn’t imagine sleeping in it every night and without all the blankets I brought,” said Independence senior Ashley Ismail. “It makes you want to go and do more to help them,” agreed Oakmont senior Ivan Sheruchyk At the conclusion of the event nearly $1,500 was raised to benefit Roseville Home Start.