The campaign’s focus is to increase awareness of the challenges of being homeless. According to the organization, 4.2 million young people will find themselves without a safe, stable place to sleep this year. Cardigan’s efforts to participate were a tremendous success, both in the scope and generosity of the donations and the enthusiasm of the participants.
The cold and snowy weather forced the group to “sleep in” instead by setting up tents in Marrion Gym. However, the students and faculty certainly experienced some of the hardships a homeless person might face on a typical night. Far from the comfort of their beds and their warm dorms, the volunteers slept on the hard gym floor, felt the cold and drafty air, and heard the unfamiliar noises of the building and the winter storm outside.
Thank you to these community members courageous enough to be uncomfortable for a night and experience homelessness: Jeronimo Del Valle Alvarado ’19, Santiago Bueno Fernandez ’20, Santiago Concha Alvarez ’19, Mateo Escalante ’22, Taewon Moon ’19, Diego Escalante ’20, Michael Brannan ’20, Cao Hung Phan ’19, Shijia “Mac” Wang ’21, Reaghan Moore ’22, Junkai “Tiger” Yang ’22, Henry Sterrett ’19, Jacob Pereira ’19, Case Laskowski ’20, Alex Pilliod ’19, Hector Benavides De Alda ’20, Seunghun “Thomas” Oh ’20, Gerardo De Rueda Renero ’19, Junyoung Bak ’19, Zhenxiao “Jordan” Yuan ’20, Spencer Hutchinson ’22, AJ Noel ’19, Ms. Borek, Ms. Kidder, Ms. Lloyd, and Ms. Hutchinson
During Chapel the day before, Director of Spiritual Life Cheryl Borek told the story of her own house catching fire, rendering her family homeless with no clothing or belongings. The experience left her with an renewed sense of compassion and empathy for those in need. “How do we guard against hardening our hearts to the true grandeur, the absolute magnitude, the sheer wonder of the blessings we have been afforded here on The Point and in our wider spheres?” she shared. “Could loss be the biggest assurance against not offering thanks? That in the not-having we find our hearts softening toward others who have-not?”
In addition to participating in the “Sleep Out America” campaign, our community gathered items to be donated to Silent Warriors, a local organization which assists Upper Valley citizens experiencing homelessness. In an outpouring of incredible kindness, students and faculty donated their own shoes, shirts, boots, and money. They bought socks from the school store, purchased toothpaste and toothbrushes, notebooks and pens, and collected gently used outerwear.
Mr. Mike Chamness, Community Organizer for Silent Warriors, wrote about Cardigan’s efforts on the organizations Facebook page:
“We'd like to extend a huge thank you to Cheryl Borek and the staff and students at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan for their donations. Students contributed clothes, toiletries, jackets, shoes, and a very generous check to help us buy tents. Because of their donations, we were able to get a number of tents out to people just prior to a storm. And it was great to have the opportunity to speak with the entire student body about the causes, realities, and solutions for our region's homeless crisis. Thanks again!”
Although none of us can do everything, each one of us can do what we can, however small. Donations are still coming in and will be bundled up and delivered to Silent Warriors before the students leave for winter break. If you would like to donate, please contact Cheryl Borek.
Many thanks to Cheryl Borek for coordinating this effort and contributing greatly to this article.