Ballard junior Emma Husak isn’t afraid to sleep outside in a box. Especially when she knows she’s doing something for a great cause. She doesn’t even care if there is rain, sleet, snow or any weather phenomenon a March evening in Iowa can bring. In fact, as Emma prepares to participate in her first-ever Reggie’s Sleepout (an event to raise awareness for homelessness) at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on March 24, it almost seems like she hopes the weather is bad.
“The bad weather gives you the true experience of living homeless,” said Husak, who selflessly took some time during her spring break to answer questions about her upcoming event. “Homeless youth have to sleep outside no matter the weather. I will endure the trials of bad weather and really experience the life of living homeless.”
According to the organization’s website, reggiessleepout.org, “More than 1,000 people gather to sleep outside in boxes, tents and sleeping bags during Reggie’s Sleepout, raising much-needed awareness and funding to support child and youth homelessness in our communities. Reggie’s Sleepout is one of the most well-known community events in Central Iowa. What began in 2001 as a unique grassroots event, has raised more than $1.7 million, with more than 10,000 campers.”
Emma recently enrolled at Ballard High School for the spring semester after attending Collins-Maxwell, where she was a member of CHAMPS — a group that promotes awareness of drugs and alcohol. She has hit the ground running at Ballard and hopes some of her new classmates will join her, along with kids from her youth group. “I have invited kids from White Oak Church’s Youth Group and I am starting a sign-up at school, hoping to get many more participants,” said Emma.
Husak is passionate about the topic of homelessness in central Iowa and believes it’s a topic that doesn’t get enough attention. “I feel that child and youth homelessness is sometimes an overlooked subject,” said Emma. “Reggie’s Sleepout does a wonderful job of spreading awareness to all sorts of people and groups. This interests me because, at one time, I never really thought of people struggling in that way, but now I know and I can share it with others and support those in need.”
So far, the event has accumulated over $32,000 in donations. The goal of this specific event is to raise $100,000, and all proceeds benefit YSS, ACCESS and the Emergency Residence Project of Ames. Donations can be made at the reggiessleepout.org web page.
On March 24, participants check in between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.; there are multiple forms of entertainment to keep the campers busy until midnight, when the lights go out and campers sleep in their boxes until 6 a.m. the next morning.
Emma encourages anyone who is interested in participating to come to the event and support the cause. “There’s no need to feel nervous,” she said. “Just come and have a good time! Show some love and support!”