DES MOINES, Iowa --Hundreds of people from all over central Iowa and the world are spending their Saturday night building shelters out of cardboard boxes and tents and sleeping in them in honor of Reggie Kelsey at Drake Stadium.
Kelsey aged out of the foster care system and passed away shortly after that in 2001.
Reggie’s Sleepout is more than just a big sleepover, Iowa Homeless Youth Centers is raising money, but also awareness to the challenges homeless youth face.
“People who are experiencing homelessness and are sleeping outside, sleep outside all year round. So even in that crappy weather, they are outside going through that pain. So it’s eye opening that we do it no matter what, here tonight, because people do it year round,”
World Link exchange students said this experience of building a shelter and sleeping outside is humbling.
“I thought that if we can be able to experience the way youth experiencing homelessness feels, that will make us good citizens and we will be able to appreciate what we have,”
World link students raised $7,300 for the cause through things like knocking on doors, bake sales and their schools.
“I really appreciate the idea of helping the youth that are struggling with homelessness because they still have a lot of potential. They still have got something to give to the world,”
Many of them said getting a glimpse of what it’s like to be homeless and learning how to fundraise is something they will take back with them to their countries.
“It makes me feel so proud that we are learning how to be good leaders for ourselves and for others, to be future leaders and to learn how to have more love for the homeless people and the people that need more attention from everyone in the world,”
After the sleep out is over they will take down their cardboard shelters to be recycled.
IHYC hopes to raise $130,000 on Saturday.