The youth group at St. Peter's, Lakewood, is holding their tenth annual Homelessness Awareness Sleep-Out on January 17. The Youth Group sleeps in cardboard boxes on the front lawn of the church. Many years the teens have battled snow and temperatures that dip down into the single digits to raise funds for local homeless programs.
While St. Peter's youth have spent 10 nights over the last ten years battling the cold, local homeless have spent about 36,500 nights on the street cold and hungry and without homes. Learning about the homeless plight is one of the reasons kids have come back to the St. Peter's event year after year.
The evening is eye opening for the group. They start with just a light supper of soup and bread. They don't have any other food until morning and all their electronic equipment is taken away. After dinner, at about 6 PM, the kids hit the streets and beg for money from people in cars driving by. At 11, they stop begging for money and start their night in the boxes. In the morning, the group takes to the streets once again, asking parishioners for money as they enter the church. The event ends with the teens attending the St. Peter's church service and receiving communion.
Over the ten years the youth group has raised about $15,000 for local shelters such as The Lakeside Men's Shelter, and the Norma Herr Woman's Shelter. the YMCA sponsored Y-Haven program, and the FrontLine Emergency Shelter. St. Peter's will be joined by the youth group from All Saints, Parma. That have participated for a number of years.