Students at Vineyard Christian Middle School, Lodi Christian School and Century Christian School learned a stark lesson about the realities of homelessness with their Street Beat fundraiser on Sept. 30.
More than 100 students camped out overnight on the sports fields of Temple Baptist Church with little more than the clothes on their backs and carboard boxes to ward off the night’s chill. For dinner, the kids were served the same meals the schools’ outreach groups serve to the homeless: a dry bologna sandwich, chips and an apple.
Even the guest speaker posed as a homeless man on site and waited to see how students reacted to him. Some offered food while others stopped to chat, but most steered clear of him. When he was introduced to the crowd for his speech on the invisibility of the homeless, he shed his dirty, ratted costume. Randal Oliver, vice principal at Vineyard Christian Middle School, said his students were shocked.
All three schools spent the weeks leading up to the event raising nearly $5,000, which was donated to Lodi House and the Unity Project.
Oliver said the turnout was much higher than last year’s effort, and he hopes to establish Street Beat as an annual event.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.