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February 11, 2003

16TH ANNUAL HOMELESSNESS SLEEP OUT IS FEB. 18

LA CROSSE, Wis.—To better understand the plight of the homeless, Viterbo University Religious Studies Professor Tom Thibodeau and his Homelessness Class are holding the 16th annual cardboard box sleep out in the Viterbo Assisi Courtyard on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

From 5 p.m. on Feb. 18 to 7 a.m. on Feb. 19, students will sleep outside, living from a cardboard box, to confront the issue of homelessness and poverty with a driving force for awareness and education.

"The class’s goal is to help people see the homeless differently, not as ‘undesirables’ to be avoided or ignored, but as unique individuals with hopes and dreams just like everyone else. Each person is somebody’s parent, brother, sister, or child—deserving every opportunity to reach his or her full potential in life," said Khris Kuck, a student in the class.

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 $50 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 5-7.

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.

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