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Andover HS students stay warm, raise awareness and support for homeless youth

Students prepare to sleep in cardboard boxes Jan. 17 Camping with friends and classmates sounds like fun, but 113 students and five staff members from Andover High School (AndHS) took camping to another level in an effort to raise awareness about youth and teen homelessness, Jan. 17. Classmates from youth service groups joined students enrolled in Outdoor Adventures classes to raise monetary donations in excess of $2,400 and a van-load of clothing, food and other basic necessities for Hope4Youth in Anoka, a nonprofit organization that works to meet the basic needs of young people experiencing homelessness locally.

Prior to setting up sleeping bags inside cardboard boxes and burn bins to stay warm on the school lawn, students heard a presentation about resources available to teens in need from Cheri Sutch, Director of Community Engagement and Giving at Hope4Youth, and Jessica Jasurda, homeless liaison for Anoka-Hennepin Schools. “We are grateful that we don’t need these services,” Students collected over $2,400 and basic necessities for homeless youth in need Bob Ameli, Andover High School Outdoor Adventures teacher, said. Ameli and a handful of AndHS teachers organized the event with Tammy Peterson, AndHS youth service coordinator, as a way to prepare for an upcoming camping trip in the boundary waters, and as a service project, as well. “This opportunity gives kids new perspective into homelessness; and after sleeping outside, they are all expected to go to school all day tomorrow.”

Students participating in the event earn service hours, and the impact left from the experience is heartwarming, although temperatures dipped as low as 14 degrees that night. “When I first agreed to participate in the Hope4Youth “Homeless for a Night” event, I wasn’t sure what to expect," Katrina Phillips, sophomore at Andover High School, said. "For my whole life, I’ve been fortunate to have a home to sleep in."

Anoka-Hennepin Community Education coordinates youth service activities at all five traditional high schools.