Teens host charity campout, aid homeless

Young women of All Saints Church in Taylorsville, Ky., from left, Rosalynn Sestito, Mckenzie Bell and Brianna Mena, slept outdoors on the parish property March 5. Sixth- through 12th-graders in the parish’s religious education program slept in cardboard boxes — while temperatures dipped to 35 degrees — to learn about the lives of people who are homeless. (Photo Special to The Record)

Young women of All Saints Church in Taylorsville, Ky., from left, Rosalynn Sestito, Mckenzie Bell and Brianna Mena, slept outdoors on the parish property March 5. Sixth- through 12th-graders in the parish’s religious education program slept in cardboard boxes — while temperatures dipped to 35 degrees — to learn about the lives of people who are homeless. (Photo Special to The Record)

Middle and high school youth at All Saints Church in Taylorsville, Ky., participated in a Cardboard Charity Campout March 5 to 6 to simulate homelessness and raise more than $1,700 for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

The event aimed to “increase awareness of the issue of homelessness” and to  “pray for the poor and homeless,” said Becky Culver, director of religious education at All Saints.

Students in grades six to 12 camped out in shelters that they made from cardboard and duct tape. The teens decorated the boxes with the names of people who made donations to their cause and biblical quotes.

The evening included a guest speaker, prayer, music and soup kitchen-style meals. Students also wrote about the experience.

The students chose the name of the event, picked out the prayers and selected the organizations that would benefit from the project, noted Culver.

“These students are truly amazing. As their catechists, we are blessed by their goodness. They are weekly reminders that we are to follow in Christ’s footsteps,” Culver said.

In total, the group collected $1,769 for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and also donated items to St. John Center for homeless men.

Despite the chilly temperatures — that dipped to 35 degrees through the night — most of the students remained outdoors until 6 a.m., Culver said.

She said she hoped the experience gave the students an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of kindness and to make that connection in their daily lives.

“Each of us were humbled by the experience,” Culver said, noting the feedback from the teens echoed that sentiment.

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