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February 18, 2002


LA CROSSE, Wis.—"I do not consider it a good day unless I can perform an act of kindness to someone who can never repay me." This has been only a small part of the message the students have been learning in this year’s spring Homelessness class at Viterbo University.

In preparation for that act of kindness and to better understand the plight of the homeless, Viterbo University Religious Studies Professor Tom Thibodeau and his Homelessness Class are holding the 15th annual cardboard box sleep out in the Viterbo Assisi Courtyard on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Beginning about 4:30 p.m. and spending 12 hours overnight living from a cardboard box, the students will confront the issue of homelessness and poverty with a driving force for awareness and education.

This is only the beginning of the students’ involvement in social learning. Throughout the semester each student fulfills 10 hours of volunteer service in the community and raises $40 to help fund a trip to Omaha, Neb. during which they participate in a service learning component—talking and working with those experiencing homelessness and poverty first hand. This year's trip is March 6-8.

Fundraising may include the students requesting spare change, asking for dollar donations, or receiving pledges. This gives them the experience of relying on others for help. Every social interaction helps create awareness of the student’s project.

"Poverty for many of us is only a paycheck or two away and can happen to anyone. It is the class’s goal to create awareness and educate the general population. We want to serve as a reminder to students and others by making the injustice of poverty visible and encouraging everyone to play their role in society to help prevent homelessness," said Viterbo student Nick Johnson.

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