Cambridge students are hoping for mild weather ahead when they will take part in “A Night for the Homeless” on Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8, in an effort to raise money for the Christian Care Center in Rock Island.
“We are a small school with a big, big heart,” is how Superintendent Tom Akers describes Cambridge schools and students.
About 40 of those students in junior high and high school are hoping for mild weather ahead when they will take part in “A Night for the Homeless” on Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8, in an effort to raise money for the Christian Care Center in Rock Island.
They will be sleeping in cardboard shelters they have constructed in College Square Park in Cambridge.
Their efforts also have been noticed at the state level. Akers said “A Night for the Homeless” event is being featured in October at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Chicago in their “Take a Stand.”
“It’s a permanent wing added to showcase local groups who are taking a stand to help make the world a better place and the Cambridge kids were chosen,” he said.
The students represent three leadership groups at the schools — FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), JKB (J. Kyle Braid); and LEV (Leadership, Ethics and Values).
Students, with adult chaperones, will be in the park from 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, until 6 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 8.
Even though their sleeping conditions won’t be as comfortable as home, the young people will have electricity and restrooms, and they plan to purchase plenty of snacks in advance.
The groups are under the leadership of Akers and school counselors Lisa Miller and Anne Wood.
Students are seeking pledges for their efforts and hope to raise $100 for each participant.
There also will be a scavenger hunt and a walk-a-thon around the park so anyone wanting to donate can make a “per lap” donation or make a lump sum contribution with 100 percent being given to Christian Care.
A local worship band will provide music in the park after the walk-a-thon.
Their goal is not only raising funds, but also awareness of how some people live.
Cambridge High School senior Hannah Akers said, “I think it is important for us to be in such a central location as College Square Park so people can see what we are doing to create awareness about the conditions homeless people live in.”
She believes it is most important to raise awareness in her hometown.
“I feel like raising awareness in such a small community helps people around here realize what it is like because I think people only see how the homeless live primarily in larger communities.”
The project includes requiring the students to build their own cardboard shelters when they arrive at the Park on Oct. 7, Miller said. “They are responsible for bringing cardboard and materials to assemble their shelters, and the shelters will be judged and donated gift cards will be given as prizes in various categories.”
Christian Care has been serving the Quad Cities for 100 years. The Rock Island Rescue Mission was founded in 1916 to provide shelter, food, clothing and spiritual nourishment to men seeking employment in the Quad Cities.
Christian Care is not a United Way agency, but it does qualify for designated funds through the Contributor’s Choice Program and the Combined Federal Campaign distributed through United Way.
Support comes from funds donated by individuals, churches, organization, businesses, grants and bequests.
Christian Care is governed by a volunteer board of directors.
Akers credits his students for all of their efforts and said, “These kids are amazing. Just seven hours after the homeless sleepover, we will participate in the Up With Life event in Kewanee to raise awareness about suicide, and we have collected and donated over $600 to help sponsor that event.”