FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It was a night spent bundled up in blankets, cramped together on cardboard, and sleeping outside in the cold. That’s what more than one hundred 7th and 8th grade students from All Saints Episcopal School in Fort Worth did for a project called “Project Empathy.”
For the 140 students, it was an exercise meant to give a better understanding of what’s like to be homeless.
Leslie Adams, an 8th grade teacher, was one of two people who started the project a few years ago. This was the sixth time for the event. “We wanted to get away from just collecting money and making sandwiches. We really wanted them to understand the issues in front of them,” she said.
The first part of the exercise had the students to be families. They balanced bills and mortgages, only to find out that some of them ran out of money, and would end up on the street. The second part sent them out on a quest to find a place, on campus, to sleep outside.
The morning after the homeless experiment 8th grade student Brianna Vinson said, I know how they feel now.” She went on to talk about how the project helped remind her to not take things in life for granted. “It kind of opened my eyes to how homeless people don’t get to pick a warm sleeping bag. They’re given something or they find something and it’s not always the best.”
Spending a night in the elements wasn’t easy. Teacher Michael Gonzales said the wind chill made it feel like it was 21-degrees outside, so at 3 a.m., the students were brought indoors, and continued their night sleeping in a hallway.
Despite having shelter from the cold, it was still a long, tough night for some. Seventh-grader Michael Smat said, “I feel really hungry and I feel really tired.”
It turned out to be a lesson that raised money for a homeless shelter and raised awareness too. “Every time I see a homeless man, I’m going to realize that they probably have a job too, and they’re probably trying their hardest just to strive and live, and it’s not easy,” Smat said. “And I’m probably going to try to donate and help them out if I can.”
The All Saints students raised more than $1,000 and collected 110 blankets for the Presbyterian Night Shelter.
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