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YSB 'Sleep Out' Aims to Raise Awareness of Youth Homelessness

by on November 22, 2019 10:35 AM

The Centre County Youth Service Bureau is holding its second annual Sleep Out outside of the State College Presbyterian Church Friday from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. to raise awareness that there are homeless youth in this community sleeping outside during the winter.

Communities all over the country are hosting Sleep Outs November 22 as part of a nationwide effort from Sleep Out America, which raises funds for Covenant House, an international non-profit that provides housing and supportive services to youth in need. 

So far, the initiative has helped provide 4,000 youth with stable housing, 1,600 youth with employment and 720,000 nights of shelter and counting. According to the Covenant House website, approximately 4.2 million kids in the U.S. will be homeless this year.  

"It's to raise awareness that there are homeless youth and adults sleeping outside in the winter months in the cold -- even with all of the other programs there are,” CCYSB residential youth advocate Mara Holsinger said. “There are still those who can't get into those types of programs who are going to be sleeping outside.”

Although Holsinger said they are not accepting donations on-site, those who would like to donate to the cause are encouraged to do so at SleepOutAmerica.org. Anyone can show up with a sleeping bag and some cardboard and participate. Temperatures during the night are expected to hover in the low 30s and high 20s, according to AccuWeather.

“The event is nationwide and we are doing it in November due to it being National Runaway Prevention Month,” Holsinger said. “Homelessness is a wide problem that people are largely unaware of.” 

Throughout the year, the CCYSB operates the Burrowes Street Youth Haven in State College. The location “serves youth 12-17 who are homeless, runaway, or at risk of running away or becoming homeless due to difficulties within their homes,” according to its website.

The Burrowes Street Youth Haven is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is a safe place where youth can talk with professional counselors, grab a snack or meal, take a shower and stay for as long as they need free of charge. Youth can drop by anytime or call (814) 234-2100 for assistance. 

“It’s something I’m really passionate about,” Holsinger said. “Our youth are excited to show other youth and young adults who are homeless that they are not alone.”



Ethan Kasales is a Lemont native and staff writer for Onward State.
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