ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - Students from one local high school are spending Friday night sleeping outside, and they're doing it for a good cause.
“I love helping out people,” Jimtown High School junior Jacob Koetz said. “I love helping out people in need. Seeing the smiles on their faces when you really know that you've changed their day, changed their lives even, is awesome.”
Koetz is not spending his Friday night like one would expect a high schooler to do, playing video games or at a party.
Instead, he's spending the night as if he were a homeless person.
“This is a great experience for us to get to know firsthand kind of what that experience is like, because we're doing it ourselves,” Koetz said. “It helps with everyone in the community, too, because they think, ‘Hey, why is the congregation of people out here?’”
Students will be spending the night in cardboard shelters so they can really get the sense of what it feels like to be homeless.
Jimtown is hosting its Heroes for the Homeless benefit on its front lawn for 24 hours to raise awareness and money for the Faith Mission homeless shelter, specifically for homeless veterans.
“Anytime we do something like this, kids are willing to give up what they do in their spare time, in their fun time, and be involved in this,” DECA adviser Lots Pinnyei said.
The faculty adviser said up to 50 students will be volunteering during the 24 hours.
“I think it's a good opportunity for us to really be humbled in our lives and just realize how much we'd miss out on,” Jimtown junior Grace Crocker said.
“You've just got to tell yourself that it's only a little bit and it's for a really good cause,” Jimtown sophomore Alaina Anthony said.
With temperatures colder than normal for March, Koetz is more than prepared.
“I’ve got another pair of sweatpants in the car,” he said. “I've got another coat, another sweatshirt, another flannel, another pair of socks. I've got everything out here.”
Spending the night sleeping outside for charity may be an extreme to some, but students say it's the Jimtown way.
“I think that's something really awesome about us and unique is that we're all really willing to sometimes get dirty just for the benefit of our community,” Crocker said.
Students will be outside until 5 p.m. Saturday.
Community members wishing to donate to the shelter can drop off monetary donations, blankets, clothing and other necessities to students at the high school, which is located at 59021 County Road 3, Elkhart.