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Date: 05/20/2020

200 students from 3 New Jersey High Schools came together this weekend to raise over $70,000 for the youth of Covenant House New Jersey. Friday night started with Northern Highlands Regional High School who kicked off the weekend for their first ever student sleep out. 40 students from the Happy Homes Club took it upon themselves to raise awareness and funds for Covenant House. 

Vivien Jones Club leader said, “(Students) have the power to make a difference and ensure that Covenant House can continue to shelter and protect our young people, 24/7.”

Taking the Student Sleep Out Edition virtual for the first time ever since having to make changes because of the global pandemic, students slept outside their homes sharing what it is they were doing across social media. 

Hours later, Delbarton School held their 5th Student Sleep Out where over 60 young men & Delbarton alumni and parents joined in the video zoom call, led by teacher Matthew White, an active volunteer and board member of Covenant House New Jersey. 

Starting with a prayer, followed by staff speaking and acknowledging the top 3 students who raised the most money, it was a night of celebration and education. The night ended with a video of a Covenant House youth sharing their story. 

Mr. White at The Sleep Out: Young Professional Edition in March 2019

The men of Delbarton then slept outside, some even with their family, only to rejoin everyone at 8 AM for a morning reflection and discussion questions. 

“Something I always think about every morning after I Sleep Out, is imagine feeling the way you feel now and having to go to a job or having to go to work. Because the reality that many homeless youth have to face is spending a night outside then having to carry on like they didn’t. Imagine going to class in the same clothes as yesterday, think about how do you even do homework when you do not have a place to?” said White in his final message to his students. 

Pingry School ended the weekend and came together Sunday night with over 60 students tuning in to hear about Covenant House New Jersey. Led by seniors Megan Cowan, Elisabeth Gilfillan and advisor Ms. Shelley Hartz, who brought the Student Sleep Out to their school last year. Cowan said, “We did not expect this turn out… It’s really an amazing thing to do. One night supporting the homeless community will make you appreciate the things we do have.” 

The night continued with CHNJ’s Executive Director, Jim White who shared a message of gratitude for what it is they have accomplished. Cowan and Gilfillan then got a chance to speak, inviting underclassmen to continue what they started as both Megan and Elisabeth will be off to college in the fall. 

The students across the state of New Jersey sent a strong message to everyone this past weekend, regardless of what it is we all might be going through, individuals have the ability to come together to make a difference as each did for the youth of Covenant House New Jersey. 

We thank the student leaders, the staff who oversaw them and everyone who chose to be part of the three Sleep Outs that took place this past weekend. 

For more information on getting your school involved in Student Sleep Outs please contact Celese Lindsey for more information.

Are you a youth in need of help?