LOS ANGELES - The Department of Justice estimates more than 1.7 million teens experience homelessness in the US every year.
People who want to take action are getting creative with how they raise money and shine a spotlight on the problem. As temperatures drop, they’re taking to the streets at night.
A group of 40 “campers” spent a night in a church parking lot with tarps, cardboard, and sleeping bags in freezing weather in Colorado Springs, and raised $37,700 for Urban Peak’s teen homeless shelter this November.
In New Orleans, 162 people participated in the 5th annual Sleep Out as part of the nationwide movement organized non-profit Covenant House. Every business and community leader who spends the night outside makes a contribution -- and this year in New Orleans, the goal is $400,000.
Others seeks to draw attention to some of “hidden costs” of being a homeless teen attempting to finish high school. In Southern Utah, representatives from the Iron County School District highlighted some of the “hidden” problems students face, telling The Salt Lake Tribune that homeless teens need more than just clothing and food. Everything from a lack of dental care and hygiene products to needing immunizations or money for class fees can interfere with academic success.
The Homeless Youth Connection (or HYC) based in Goodyear, Arizona, is an organization that specifically focuses on helping teens finish high school. They provide support and guidance through case management and even have a program that places homeless teens with host families.
If you want to donate to your local youth resource center, requested items often include:
Backpacks and school supplies
Bike tire repair kits and bus tokens
Toiletries, diapers, and wipes
Coats, jackets, hats, and gloves
Sleeping bags, tents, and tarps
Canned goods that are easy to eat (including chili, soup, and spaghetti) and granola bars
$5 gift cards for fast food restaurants and grocery stores
Watch the video above to see how one formerly homeless teen is making his dreams come true with a very special talent.