The teens at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica’s Keystone Club are gathering for the second time, for the Hearts for the Homeless Sleepout.
“We want to create an awareness and understanding about the homeless population,” said Jessica Rubecindo, Manager and Resource Development of Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica.
The Boys & Girls Club wants the event to be informational for community about the but also hope it will raise funds and donation items that will help the homeless community.
According to the 2016 Santa Monica Homeless Count, there were 728 homeless individuals in Santa Monica on a single night (The 2017 count will occur this month). Recently Santa Monica has seen a 20% reduction in homelessness from 2009 to 2016, but that doesn’t stop the Boys & Girls Club Santa Monica to continue their efforts in assisting the homeless community.
Rubecindo explains with the donated items the club hopes to receive, teens will
assemble kits for the homeless that will include travel size toiletries and blankets. The kits will be distributed by the teens at a later date that has yet to be determined.
“Growing up I always believed in the stereotype that the homeless were dangerous people and that I should stay away. As I got older, I realized that is not the case,” said Mylan Ross, participant in last year’s Heart for the Homeless Sleepout. “Through the Hearts for the Homeless Event, I found a way to have an impact on the homeless community of Santa Monica and make a difference.”
Once the teens put together kits for the homeless they will participate in leadership and diversity workshops, which are presented by community members. The UCLA Bruins Homeless Shelter and the Santa Monica Police Department are expected to speak to the children, giving them an insight about the homeless community.
“The event was very successful last year, and we were able to gather around 110 kids,” said Rubecindo. “Hopefully the numbers will go up this.”
After various workshops there will be scavenger hunts, multiple games, activities, dinner and a movie that will happen around midnight. At 2 a.m. the kids set up their sleeping bags and tents on the black top of their enclosed recreational area to experience a night being homeless.
The Boys & Girls Club works to break the homeless cycle, and hopes The Hearts for the Homeless Sleepout will bring attention from all over.
“A little girl came up to me and explained she got a sense of clarity and empowerment for the Sleepout, which is something I hope many of the kids will experience,” said Rubecindo.
The Sleepout takes place on Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Santa Monica Clubhouse at 1238 Lincoln Blvd.
The Boys & Girls Club is asking for volunteers to help make breakfast for the kids the next morning along with any donations such a travel size toiletries and blankets for the homeless.
For more information visit http://www.smbgc.org or call (310) 361-8500. Donations can be made to the club at 1238 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401.