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News >  Idaho

CHS kids experience cold reality of being homeless



 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

It was a bone-chilling 30 degrees the night of Nov. 19 and frost was clinging like glue to the football field at Coeur d’Alene High School. The football team wasn’t there, though. Instead, about 20 students were there participating in the sixth annual Dare to Bear the Cold.

As part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, the students volunteer to sleep out in the cold all night to experience what it would be like to be homeless. They construct cardboard shelters, and bring their sleeping bags, blankets and several layers of clothing.

Key Club, the high school version of Kiwanis, organizes the event. Key Club works on other community projects with Kiwanis, such as helping with the Christmas party at the women’s shelter in December and hosting a Christmas party for the National Guard unit going to Iraq.

Coeur d’Alene High Spanish teacher Julie Murphy is the Key Club adviser.

“I tell the kids if you’re really cold and can’t seem to get your body temperature up, we’ll take them inside,” Murphy said. Kiwanis member Ralph Shay, the organization’s Idaho Panhandle adviser, said the event is meant to bring attention to the homeless, not to put the kids at risk. The students have access to the school to use the restrooms and warm up if necessary.

Huddled together were juniors Kenara Altman, Kenny Shackelford, D. J. Bradford and Amara Russo, along with sophomores Cody Minges and Shayla Sythe.

The students said they learned there were homeless kids going to their school. Representatives from St. Vincent de Paul had come to talk to them earlier. They learned that some people become homeless due to problems with drugs, which causes the spiral of losing family and jobs.

“Stay in school as long as you can,” Bradford. said. “Even with a college education, there is still a chance of becoming homeless, but you have that drive to work harder for your goals.”

The students were aware that they had hot chocolate, pizza and indoor bathrooms at their disposal, which homeless people do not.

Huddled around the burn barrel were Key Club president Laura James, and sophomores Shanna Brown and Rachel Siemens. They felt they had the best cardboard shelter, and indeed it was pretty substantial, with a roof and three tightly packed sleeping bags and pillows inside. They were listening to the state championship football game, which their school was playing in, on the radio. A huge pile of logs nearby was being saved for a bonfire later.

The three girls hoped to gain a better understanding of the plight of the homeless. This was Rachel’s second year participating. She said she slept for two hours at last year’s event. All 20 of the students who participated made it through the night.

LHS Students of the Month

Lakeland High School has announced Students of the Month for October.

Sophomore Jill Bockstruck enjoys running, playing the flute, riding dirt bikes and reading. She plans to attend college after graduation.

Junior Josh Wuest plays football and enjoys doing anything outdoors. He plans to attend college and pursue a degree in civil engineering.

Senior Ashley Beck plays volleyball, basketball and participates in track. She enjoys horseback riding and hanging out with friends. She plans to attend the University of Idaho and study dietetics.

Friendship bazaar

Next Saturday North Idaho Christian School will hold its Friendship Holiday Bazaar from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the school, 251 W. Miles Ave., Hayden Lake. Come and do some Christmas shopping for your family and friends. For more information, call the school at 772-7546.

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