The Spectrum Student Sleep Out was inspired by Celia Andrews from Westford, Vermont! Nine years old at the time, she heard business leaders were sleeping outside on Church Street on a cold winter night to raise awareness and funds for homeless youth—and she wanted to get involved. With her parents’ support, she decided to Sleep Out in her own backyard last year and to raise money to help homeless and at-risk youth.
We talked with Celia about her Sleep Out experience:
How did you learn about the Sleep Out?
My mom’s friend borrowed a sleeping bag to do the Sleep Out the first year Spectrum held it. I thought it was really neat what she was doing.
What made you want to be involved and Sleep Out in your own backyard?
I thought it would be fun to sleep outside in the middle of winter and see what it is like to be homeless without a warm bed.
What did your parents say when you told them you wanted to Sleep Out?
My mom and dad were really proud of me.
How did you spread the word and ask people to support you with donations? Who did you ask?
We had a fundraising site on-line. My mom also put it on her Facebook page, and I sent some emails with the link to my site to lots of friends and relatives.
You raised $1,200 to support homeless youth! Was it hard to do?
No, people are really generous!
Can you describe what it was like sleeping out?
It was like camping, sort of. But it was cold, and there was snow. I can’t really imagine what it would be like to have to sleep outside every night by myself.
What did you have with you when you slept out?
I made it through the night because I had a tent, a mattress, and warm blankets. I also dressed in my warmest PJs.
Do you plan to Sleep Out again? Do you think you can convince any of your friends to join you?
Yes, we’re definitely doing it again! Lots of my friends knew I did it last year, and I think this year they will be ready to join me. I think other kids should do it with their friends too!
Do you have any advice for other youth who are thinking of taking part in a Student Sleep Out?
Use lots of blankets!! Also, it’s okay to ask people for money, because it’s for something really good, not just to buy something for yourself. You are helping homeless kids!
Any other thoughts to share?
It felt good to raise a lot of money to help homeless youth in Vermont. It also felt like an accomplishment to make it through the whole night!
Want to help homeless youth just like Celia did? Why not host a Sleep Out with your kids in your own backyard? Or contact a school or church leader and suggest they host a Student Sleep Out? Learn more or register a team here.