Archive for Sunday, April 29, 2007

Students camp out to simulate homeless experience

April 29, 2007


De'ja McGee likely will wake up this morning with a few aches and pains after spending the night sleeping on a cardboard box in a parking lot.

But she also will wake up with a better understanding of what homeless people go through on a daily basis.

De'ja was one of about 20 youngsters with the Ninth Street Baptist Church Youth Ministry who camped out in the northwest corner of the Wal-Mart parking lot in an effort to simulate what it's like to live without shelter and with meager resources.

Garry Marshall, youth pastor for the church, allowed the kids to have only $1.50 and few other conveniences to show them how the homeless struggle from one day to the next.

"I was looking for some slight inconveniences but enough to make them appreciate that they don't have to look for food, they don't have to look for a place to stay," Marshall said.

They lucked out with the weather, as it was a comfortable 77 degrees early Friday evening, but Marshall said he was interested to see how they would fare when the sun went down and the temperature dropped.

"It's going to get cold at night," said De'ja, an 11-year-old Broken Arrow School student.

Although the kids were permitted to bring only $1.50 - and no iPods, cell phones or video games - that didn't stop Torrey Brown from trying to scrounge up more change by playing his trumpet for passing cars in the parking lot.

"I thought since I was a kid playing an instrument, they'd drop the money right in," Torrey said. "But it's harder than I thought."

One man passed and dropped off 80 cents for the youngster, marking his first score after several dozen cars passed.

The experience, Torrey said, proved to him how it can be tough asking for money.

"I never knew it was that hard to get money playing an instrument," Torrey said. "But it's a lot harder than I thought, so I definitely have respect (for the homeless)."

Marshall said any money given to the youngsters would be donated to the homeless. But for the rest of the night, he said, it would be whiling away the time and getting a sense of what life is like for someone without a home or a place to stay.

"We will make our entertainment, we will make our night and go from there," he said.

Which was good enough for Lamont Crockett, a South Junior High School student, who said learning about the homeless would be worth the inconvenience of one night spent on pavement.

"We've got covers and stuff," he said. "It might be a little uncomfortable, but it will be worth it."


toefungus 11 years, 1 month ago

How nice. Did they urinate in front of Weavers or sleep in the door of area businesses? How about soiling the tunnel under sixth in front of Pinckney? How about beating each other up for drugs and booze? If they really wanted to help, they would they would be looking for ways to offer better mental heath services in the community, or giving out bus tickets to Topeka.

Bryan Wilcox 11 years, 1 month ago

Hah, my dad told me about doing this when he was going to Baker in the 70's.. He and a buddy tried to walk into a homeless shelter, They saw right through them and said, get out... "You guys have too nice of clothes to be homeless!" Come on! It was for a psychology class!

50YearResident 11 years, 1 month ago

Playing a trumpet for change would be like selling freezers to eskomo's at the north pole. (Way too loud or cold)

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

Is this the KU that alumni are coming to know and love .......teaching victimization! Maybe it should be included with "women's studies".............part of a larger course "Victomhood in the USA"! Or, maybe it's the fair and balanced approach to Wittig and the good ole boys club.

Confrontation 11 years, 1 month ago

I'm a little confused by the advertisement in this article. Why are they advertising a Morning Star Church Christmas function that is dated December 10th & 17th? I guess it's advanced notice at it's finest.

angel4dennis 11 years, 1 month ago

I think everyone should at some point have to go through a night like the homeless do. It makes you more thankful of what you have. I have had a similar situation before and I walked away from it more blessed than I could have imagined. Let's teach humanity and not bicker about where someone urinated, or that it isn't cold enough for this experience.

RonaldWilson 11 years, 1 month ago

The reason I don't sleep in the street is that I already know it sucks. Are you so stupid that you did not already know that behaving like a bum isn't fun before you tried it? This is an example of symbolism over substance where we leave the experience "feeling" better without doing a damn thing to fix the problem.

pelliott 11 years, 1 month ago

Gosh good for them. I am sure that there is no act that couldn't earn instant negative cracks from our little chorus of let's be hateful. Here some kids are at least looking at issues, and good for them. I learned a lot as a volunteer for the SA for years Poor people's attitudes and situations vary. One widow was almost bankrupted and homeless when a neighbor accidently shot her daughte while transporting a rifle to a car. No money to be gotten from that case, just desperate times of missed work, mounting debt, funeral bills and continual work. They kept their little home, I find the instant blame game played on this forum contentless, remarks of hatred, the almost whimsical degradation of homeless people, or anyone they percieve as a group, liberals, rightwing nutwings, immigrants, students , etc, seem to lead some people to think they don't have to be responsible for what they say or how they say it. One should be civil to everyone, it is the place to begin. It should be acknowledged that this is an effort to learn something. I understand that the effort could be critiqued but the effort should be acknowledged. Pretending that 'certain persons are a species of animal with all the same attributes is not a logical remark, it is hateful heckling, heck bears don't even fit stereotype thinking. As a person who needs a bathroom from time to time, unlike the high and mighty, I don;t find that blame game such an instant hit.
I do find medical conditions, and injuries are often the beginning of some people's road trip.

RonaldWilson 11 years, 1 month ago

So you don't disagree with my point, just the way I'm saying it, Huh?

bar_b_q 11 years, 1 month ago

I can't believe some of your comments. These are kids out doing something. No matter what you think that should be, they are doing something! Something I think can sometimes be lacking in that generation. They should be offered encouragement, instead of criticism. I say good job to them! There is no telling what they will do to help change the world from just being a part of this experience.

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