A group of high school girls woke up Thursday morning from a campout for a cause.
About 30 students at all-girls Catholic school Notre Dame de Sion spent the night in a simulated homeless camp outside the school at West 106th Street and Wornall Road.
Student council president Moira Quinn began the night breaking wood across her knee, trying to start a campfire, while her classmates taped together cardboard boxes for shelter.
"I'm not sure if this is exactly how you build fires," Quinn admitted. "But I've seen it in movies, and my brother has done it."
The campfire is just one luxury those students had that many people without a home do not.
They had safety, with adults watching over them. They had the option of going inside if the temperature dropped below 20 degrees. They knew that when they woke up, their experiment would be over.
"It's always like a thing students look forward to and the (student council) members look forward to," senior Sarah Allen said. "Which is kind of ironic since homeless people obviously don't look forward to sleeping outside in boxes and stuff."
Indeed, there was a good deal of giggling.
The girls were well aware that the annual exercise won't make them fully understand what it means to be homeless, but it creates an interactive moment to think about it, discuss it and send a message.
"We are lucky enough to go to a school where we can go home to warm beds every night," Quinn said.
"This is just to show, hey, not everyone gets to go home after a long day and sleep in their warm beds with their family," senior Neda Awad said.
"The point is for the girls to think about it and then the people that come and visit us and bring us cans. It's just to, like, raise awareness really," Allen said.
The canned goods were at the heart of the bigger effort represented by the campout. The night out is the kickoff for a monthlong food drive for Redemptorist Social Services.
Redemptorist has partnered with Notre Dame de Sion for more than 10 years. The food collected will help more than just those without a roof over their heads.
"I know some of the food we have goes to pack backpacks for children who, over the long weekend, they don't have meals in their homes, so they school to get food," Quinn said.
The eventual goal is to collect 30 tons of non-perishable food. Last year the students collected 28 tons.
The next food raising event in the monthlong campaign will be a Halloween event where the girls collect cans instead of candy.
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