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On November 21st and 22nd over 280 executives and community members slept out on behalf of youth overcoming homelessness in New Jersey. 23 teams in Newark and 24 in Atlantic City gathered for an unforgettable night of inspiration, self-reflection, and humility as they took to our parking lot with nothing but a cardboard box, a sleeping bag and a few belongings.

We are so grateful to the participants who raised an amazing $1.27 million to support all the work that we do here at Covenant House for homeless youth.  Those funds will not only help us to provide food and shelter, but will help us provide an array of other services to our youth to build resilience and transition to independent living.  Those skills include education, employment, financial literacy, social navigation (life skills) and wellness.

For those who slept out in Newark, one of our most famous supporters, New York Giants All-Star and Chairman of the Sleep Out, Saquon Barkley, posed for meet and greet photos with our top fundraisers and provided insight on why he supports Covenant House. He also celebrated our top fundraiser for the second year in a row, Jim O’Brien whose passion and dedication to the cause allowed him to raise $33,500.  The Pirate Blues Brothers were the top fundraising team with $133,440.50 raised.

Barkley was onstage to share some words of wisdom to our youth and the sleepers. He highlighted the lasting impact that the youth and staff of CHNJ have made on his role as an advocate and activist. 

“It’s not just about me just showing up or bringing [kids to the games]. I’m actually invested in showing them that I actually care. My advice is to find something that you love, that you’re passionate about… whatever it is, anything is attainable.”

Barkley concluded his time by inviting several of our youth onstage for a rousing performance of a rap about Saquon.

At the opposite end of the state, the Atlantic City Crisis Center saw their highest amount of registered sleepers with 113 participants committed to lifting up our young people. Sleepers also raised $253,000, the largest total in Atlantic City Community Edition history with  Glen McDonald leading with $30,025 raised.  The top Atlantic City team was Frozen Angels at $36,998.  

Jim White, Executive Director of Covenant House NJ expressed his gratitude for the sleepers across New Jersey who dedicated their time to make our kids feel loved and supported.

“Thank you for giving me these moments, this breath of fresh air and hope – and the thousands of moments for the next year that your support makes possible.

How blessed are we to be part of this movement. To suffer on cardboard, to have to ask our friends for money, to struggle the next day with back pain and trying to keep our eyes open.  To be part of something bigger than ourselves so that we can bring love and hope to young people in need.”

We are profoundly grateful to all the sleepers for proving to our kids, that people are here to wrap their arms around them. You give them hope and motivation needed to build better futures. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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