PSP raises awareness through holiday projects

During this holiday season, Public Service Practicum and other school organizations joined together to remember those who are struggling with hunger and homelessness through Knight in a box and a canned food drive.
For PSP students, the two projects are part of a poverty unit. They have focused on the effects of homelessness and hunger in Lake County. The initial of the two projects-Knight in a box- was where students slept in cardboard boxes in the courtyard to simulate what it would be like to be homeless.
“Knight in a box was something that I will never forget. It has made me realize that I have so much to be proud of and that I should never take anything for granted. I am so glad that I don’t have to worry about my next meal or where I’ll be sleeping for the night. I just realized that I’m so lucky, and it really has changed my life for the better. Yes it was cold, but I can go through it for one night when people go through it for years,” said PSP student Allison Szramek.
Although the project was not perfect, it got students thinking about homelessness somewhere close to home; right here in Lake County.
“I was wearing a ton of layers and huddled with my friends for warmth. I think that reminding myself that it was only one day and that at the end of the day I would be back in my warm bed was what kept me going. It was crazy to think that people living so close to me were homeless like this and I had just never truly thought about it,” said senior PSP student Cassandra Cowperthwaite.
Students who participated also realized the after effects of homelessness: feeling tired during school and uncomfortable after not getting a good night’s sleep.
“The next day really helped me gain some perspective because I was more tired than I’ve been in a really long time. I just felt different too, not like myself. We weren’t allowed to shower so I didn’t feel clean and it was hard to stay awake,” said senior PSP member, Christine Kowalski.
Each of the students were given tasks to help gain attention for these problems that exist right here in Lake County.
“Some students participated in Knight in a box, others worked to hand out bags in neighborhoods for canned good collections, collect the food and some even worked on our hunger banquet for the end of the unit. Some participated in more than one,” said PSP teacher Emily Weiss.
The second part of the poverty unit focused on what can be done to combat the project. Students helped to organize a food drive.
“I really love the way that the unit was organized. Students went from getting to learn first-hand about the effects of homelessness and then they worked to help eliminate this issue. The fact that they get that sort of problem-answer service learning is my favorite part of the whole class. It shows them that they may not be able to eradicate a problem but they can help,” said PSP teacher Roxanne Bristow.