Newman students sleep out for homeless youth
November 10, 2019
The frigid cold under the Friday night lights did not stop the Isidore Newman Greenies on their way to breaking records and making history.
Fans, family and alumni stormed the field after the 45-0 win over Southern Plaquemines, but junior Lainie Pilant wasn’t a part of the celebration.
Bundled up in a coat and scarf, Pilant was busy organizing a pile of cardboard, stacking sleeping bags and thinking about where on the practice field does she want to spend her night.
Pilant, along with over 50 students and 10 teachers, participated in the 2nd Annual Student Sleep Out. Participants gathered the bare necessities in order to lie on cardboard slabs, much like the homeless youth of New Orleans.
Pilant said, “It represents all we have for the night.”
The Sleep Out aimed at raising awareness on campus of the homelessness issue and how to best combat the issue.
“Most schools don’t realize this is directly effecting our community,” PIlant said. “(The Sleep Out) bonds our community, especially after a football game when school spirit is high.”
The event did more than just awareness. The students fund raised ahead of the Sleep Out for Covenant House New Orleans, a non-profit dedicated to assisting and housing youth without a place to stay.
The Newman students managed to raise $22,000 before the night ended and Jim Kelley, the founder of the New Orleans charity, was impressed.
“My hat is off to the students and the faculty that are supporting this,” Kelly said. “It’s pretty special.”
Kelly hosts the annual Covenant House Sleep Out on the charity’s grounds, but was taken back by the student’s initiative for hosting their own sleep out on their campus.
Kelly hopes the students now know the realities that the city’s homeless population have to face.
He said, “You always have to take the perspective that this is just one night. It’s great that (the students) are enthusiastic about one night of cold and wind, it’s another thing to think about what would it be like to do this night after night.”
Interim Head of Newman’s Upper School, Robyn McCormick, was proud of the Community Service Committee, Newman’s club dedicated to raise awareness for issues around campus such as climate change, poverty, equity and justice.
“This is all student driven,” she said. “If this could help change the trajectory of at least one kid’s life, then that’s one of the things that we want to get out of this experience.”