Students experience night without a home

The George Washington Carver Association and the Saint Thomas Aquinas Church co-sponsored the homeless awareness sleepout on April 18. Students from various clubs and organizations gathered in the Saint Thomas Aquinas Church parking garage to play games, hang out, sleep in cardboard structures and spread awareness about homelessness. ISU basketball player Daniel Edozie came to speak about his experiences. This is the second annual homeless sleepout and it took place from around 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.

John Kruse

Despite the rain and chilly temperatures, Elizabeth Haut and several other ISU students spent a night huddled together in duct-taped-cardboard boxes. By choice. 

These students spent the night outside Saturday, April 18, to spread awareness about homelessness in America.

“We don’t know people’s situations or what they have been through,” said Haut, student organizer of the event and junior in mathematics. “A lot of people go day by day wondering where they’re going to sleep.”

For the event, students were asked to fashion their own overnight shelters out of cardboard and duct tape, where they would spend the night.

At least 2.3 million people experience homelessness at some time during an average year, according to Future in Humanity, an organization dedicated to helping the homeless.

The event was supposed to have taken place on Central Campus; but because of the constant rain throughout Saturday, the event was moved to the bottom section of the St. Thomas Aquinas Church parking ramp. However, Shari Reilly, campus ministry director for St. Thomas Aquinas Church, said this seemed appropriate considering what the homeless go through.

“You don’t have control over the weather or environment, which is part of living homeless,” Reilly said. “Even here, they can’t turn the lights off.”

As part of the event, ISU basketball player Daniel Edozie came out to speak about his experience growing up homeless with his mother as they travelled from city to city, trying to scrounge out a living.

“We slept in a park till it was 4 in the morning until I had to go to school,” Edozie said, speaking on one of his most vivid memories while living homeless.

Edozie’s story has become popular throughout the sports world, with publications from Sports Illustrated to USA Today writing about his journey from a boy living on the streets to a graduating college basketball player. The now college graduate said he sees this as an opportunity to share with people what it’s like to live homeless.

“Nobody can really relate to it until you put yourself in that situation where you have nothing,” Edozie said.

However, Edozie also said he believes his story is meant to inspire people to keep a positive attitude about their lives, no matter how hard it gets.

“Ten years ago I was a kid with my head down low and now I’m a man with my head held high,” Edozie said.

Throughout the night, students huddled around and talked or played games in the corridors of the parking ramp as the rain continued to poor outside. Most of all, though, they reflected on the things they had and the things many others didn’t.

“Kids don’t know how to appreciate things when everything is given to them,” Edozie said.