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Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Weekend retreat focuses on homelessness

Young people from St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Westminster and United Evangelical United Church of Christ in Baltimore participated in a retreat Nov. 9-11 that connected themes from "The Hunger Games" books to their faith and to the reality of hunger and homelessness in the community and the world.

The Hunger Games Retreat coincided with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Nov. 10-18.

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That Friday evening began with a "Sleep Out for Homelessness." Fourteen youths and adults taped and decorated cardboard boxes, donated by Random House, that would serve as their shelter for the night. After a discussion of "The Hunger Games," led by Libby Fuss, the group built a fire and tried to keep warm.

By 11:30 everyone was cold and hungry. St. Paul's members Bill and Janet Kelly brought a huge pot of hot chicken soup.

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Before everyone crawled into their box for the night, they looked at pictures of young people who are homeless and wrote them a letter. They also heard words and stories from clients of a local soup kitchen and offered prayers for all who had to sleep in the cold.

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The night was long and cold, so some had to abandon their box for a warmer space.

The next morning they shared their experiences. One example: "When we slept outside I found myself really sympathizing with all the people who have to survive in these circumstances. Our box started to fall apart even though it was only for one night," a participant said. "I can't believe this is really how some people have to live. I pray for all those people."

Each person was given $2 for breakfast, which is more than most of the world's population has to spend on food for a whole day. They settled on Sam's Bagels on Main Street because it was close. People paired up, shared their money, and found deals like four, day-old bagels for a dollar.

After further discussions, the whole group ate a meal as clients at a local soup kitchen.

That Saturday afternoon, they heard speakers from Earl's Place, transitional housing for formerly homeless men. Pledges for the "sleep out" were earmarked for Earl's Place.

That Sunday, the group traveled to Washington, D.C., to tour the Holocaust Museum.

Grace United Church of Christ, in Taneytown, also hosted a "Sleep Out for Homelessness" on Nov. 16.


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