About 75 hungry, shivering teenagers huddled around a campfire tonight at Bishop Seabury Academy’s seventh-annual Sleeping Outside with Blankets food drive.
Each year, participating students fast for 24 hours, collect food donations and sleep outside in the frigid night air during the event to raise awareness of homelessness.
Donning two pairs of pants, four layers of sweatshirts and a coat, Bishop Seabury senior Courtney Cooper said the campout allows students a walk in the shoes of those they are helping with the food drive.
“I love the fact that you’re putting an entire 24 hours into thinking about someone else,” Cooper said. “It’s not like you can forget because you’re hungry and cold the entire time.”
Though their stomachs were growling and their bodies were shivering, the students laughed through their chattering teeth. Bishop Seabury senior Kate Allbrecht said that’s because the students all had each other.
“It makes me very grateful for everyone in my life because I can’t imagine doing this alone,” Allbrecht said. “It takes a lot out of you, but you learn a lot about yourself and others.”
Students are only allowed water, hot chocolate or coffee and two blankets to sleep with tonight — an increase from the usual one-blanket restriction, due to the particularly chilly weekend forecast. But even though the event is demanding, Cooper said most of her classmates look forward to the sleep-out each year.
“There are a lot of rules, but we never lose participation,” Cooper said. “Every year people want to come out and we have 75 percent of the school here tonight.”
The event wraps up Bishop Seabury’s two-week food drive, during which they collected around 3,000 food and hygiene items for the Trinity Food Pantry, Lawrence Community Shelter, Ballard Center, Catholic Charities, Family Promise, Penn House and the Salvation Army.