Key Club members collect nonperishables, sleep outside to raise awareness of homelessness

12 years ago

By Natalie Bazinet
Staff Writer

LIMESTONE — Students of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics’ Key Club spent the night under the stars on Sept. 22 to collect food for the needy and increase awareness of homelessness.

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Aroostook Republican photo/Natalie Bazinet
Kevin McDonough of Scarborough packs up his cardboard lodging after a night sleeping outside with the Maine School of Science and Mathematics’ Key Club, collecting nonperishables and raising awareness of homelessness.

Nineteen Key Club students each donated three nonperishable food items to participate in the sleep out, which will be donated to Catholic Charities. Aside from helping to feed those who may otherwise go without, the night outside was also a way to help students think outside the box … even while sleeping in a box.

“It was also to help raise awareness for the students as to what it’s like not to be within four nice walls with a heater,” explained MSSM Executive Director Luke Shorty, who chaperoned the event along with Residential Instructor Mallory Zingone.

Students exited the dormitory’s nice, comfortable climate around 10:30 p.m. and slept outside until morning rains chased everyone inside around 7 a.m.

It was the first time sleeping in a cardboard box for Key Club student Katelyn Keresey of Old Town, and she thought that raising awareness of homelessness could have long-term results.

“Key Club’s whole purpose is to help out in our community; maybe there’s not a lot of homelessness in our community, but I know there’s a lot in others,” she explained, adding her hopes that other organizations might participate in similar activities.

While collecting nonperishables for those in need is certainly community service, Key Club member Grier Ostermann of Topsham explained that Key Club generally participates in more direct volunteerism.

“This was definitely a very creative thing to do, and we do so many other things that serve the community in different ways,” he explained.

Last year, for instance, Ostermann explained that he often volunteered at the Limestone Recreation Department helping out with programs and activities for the children.

Key Club is also involved with assisting churches and non-profits, and students have found that volunteering is its own reward.

“It feels nice when the day is over,” Ostermann said.

The Key Club sleep-out happened to coincide with MSSM’s annual Community Service Day; students traveled as far south as Amity to assist non-profits and municipalities with yard work, painting, organizing and whatever else they could.

Intermittent rains throughout the day did put a damper on the assistance students could provide, but the night offered a rain-free reprieve for students to sleep out.

“It was actually a gorgeous night,” Keresey said. “It was a little overcast, but the clouds were clear and there wasn’t a lot of light pollution, so you could see the stars.”

As nice as the evening was, Keresey said she wouldn’t want to sleep outside every night.

To help get students up and going for their day, Mother Nature provided a harsh wake-up call — a cold, 7 a.m. downpour.

Just minutes before the downpour, however, recently awakened Key Club member Ostermann explained how instead of sleeping in his cardboard box, like many of his peers chose to do, he elected to use the cardboard as insulation between him and the ground.

“Since it didn’t rain, I thought it was nice, but even if it had rained, I don’t think the cardboard would have been much help,” he described.