By Ike Morgan: 'Frost on my blanket' is not something usually associated with modern living in America. Yet that is one of the many symbols that aptly describe the "Welcome to My Home" night in Dexter to raise awareness about homelessness.
The event, sponsored by the Dexter High School Key Club, football team, and student council, focused on having students and advisors spend an entire night outdoors with only the minimal amount of amenities. Some chose to sleep in cardboard boxes while others slept on park benches. The purpose of the event was not to have fun, but instead to experience some of the hardships that thousands of people endure in America every day.
The fundraiser was a great success as over 80 students volunteered to raise money and spend the night in the cold at Wayside Park. Students were required to raise at least $25 in pledges in order to participate. They were also encouraged to bring canned goods and toiletry items to replenish local food banks. Blankets were also donated.
According to Key Club Advisor Rick Whitney over $4,000 was raised in donations. He said 50 percent of the money would go to a fuel assistance fund for area residents while 25 percent would go to WomenCare and 25 percent to Shaw House in Bangor.
Along with the overnight stay, students also engaged in various activities put on by local agencies and groups. WomenCare led a walk from the high school to the library to visit a memorial erected in honor of Mindy Gould and Treven Cunningham who were victims of domestic violence. A candle light vigil was held at the memorial.
Back at Wayside Park speakers engaged the students on topics relating to homelessness. A representative from the Shaw House spoke about the availability of assistance for those in need. Dave Stanhope, a collections officer for Brewer Credit Union discussed the real life difficulties of losing one's home to financial duress. Randy Libby, a homeless advocate spoke of his experiences in the world of the homeless.
When asked if they wanted to spend another night out it was evident that the student volunteers had truly experienced a small part of the hardship and difficulty that comes with being homeless.
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