From left: Owens students Marlissa Nordhaus attempts to keep her tent from being blown away from the wind as Josh Widanka, center, and Clay Leonard help set up the tent during a tent city project at Owens Community College.
While several Owens Community College students fought strong winds today to put tents up for an event to raise awareness about the homeless, Kevin Kralovic quietly walked up and dropped off a box of hygiene items for the homeless before going into the Student Health and Activities Center.
It was the eighth annual Sleep Out for the Homeless Tent City event put on by the Owens student activities group. Donations from the event that were collected before and during the event go to the Cherry Street Missions Ministry.
"I saw on the Owens Web site they were looking for hygiene items and I thought why not," Mr. Kralovic said, a dietetic technician student from Toledo. "I don't have time to volunteer so this is the least I can do."
In the box Mr. Kralovic donated included 24 rolls of double rolled toilet paper, many different sized towels, deodorant, body wash, toothpaste, razors, and shampoo.
The event began at 4 p.m. today and will go until Tuesday at 9 a.m. in front of the Student Health and Activities Center on the Owens campus in Perrysburg Township. Students set up tents, hang out, hold round table discussions about the homeless issue, and accept donations from others on campus and in the community for Cherry Street Missions.
While most students set up tents, some students set up cardboard boxes to spend the night in.
Nicole Buccalo, student activities assistant helping operate the event, has helped host the event for the past four years and said there are anywhere from five to 30 people at the event. Early on in the event today, there was about 10 people setting up tents and keeping boxes from blowing away in the wind.
Owens student Brian Garee holds his hat to keep it from blowing in the wind while talking to Marisa Soto in her box.
For the event last year the group collected canned foods instead of hygiene items.
Other students sleeping out said they have had friends who are homeless and wanted to bring awareness to the issue.
Clay Leonard, an automotive student from Pataskala, said he does this event every year because it is important to raise awareness and help people in need. He said simple things like the availability of bathrooms are taken for granted.
"It teaches me to be independent and that it is OK to ask for help," Mr. Leonard said. "I've seen friends homeless, and I have had to use the food pantry sometimes. If I have something to spare I do it. If I have old clothes I'll donate them."
Last year, low temperatures forced the students to move inside at 3 a.m. The students said with warmer weather they don't anticipate that, although tents fell over several times before nightfall from high wind gusts.
"Last year I stayed up all night playing cards in the tent," said Kaylea Walter of Bradner, who is studying early childhood. "[The homeless issue] is very important. There are people out there starving without jobs, especially in this economy."
Anticipating little sleep, she said she will likely have to sleep Tuesday. She said she did not want to even try to set up her tent in the high winds but would just try to sleep in one of the cardboard boxes.
"A lot of people stop by to discuss homelessness and donate," Mrs. Buccalo said. "This event raises the awareness to our students of what homeless [people] go through, but we only scratch the surface. We will never understand what they really go through."
Contact Matt Thompson at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-356-8786 or on Twitter at @mthompson25.
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