Ryan takes part in Sleep Out America to raise awareness of youth homelessness

Archbishop Ryan High School participated in Sleep Out America, raising more than $1,300 for Covenant House and awareness for youth homelessness.

Some Ryan students and staff slept out on the front lawn of the school on Friday night. In general, temperatures were in the 30s during the event, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“I wanted to do it right away,” senior Elizabeth Walp said before getting comfortable in her sleeping bag. “I’m trying to help people less fortunate than me.”

The Chick-fil-A cow donned its pajamas on the late evening of Nov. 22 to support Archbishop Ryan High School students and staff who observed Sleep Out America, in recognition of homeless youths.

According to Sleep Out America organizers, 4.2 million young people each year find themselves without a safe, stable place to sleep. Reasons, they say, might include physical abuse, human trafficking, drug-addicted parents or a house “overflowing with rage.” More than 5,000 of them will lose their lives.

Those statistics caused some students to act, and a night in the cold wouldn’t deter them.

“I jumped into it right away so there would be more attention,” said senior Brigid Conroy. “We’ll be OK. It will go by faster than we think.”

The local Covenant House is in Germantown. It’s free and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to young people 21 and under. The site provides food, clean clothes and medical care.

Two prominent Covenant House supporters, Phillies senior advisers Charlie Manuel and Larry Bowa, joined this year’s observation of Sleep Out America in Center City.

Ryan’s involvement in Sleep Out America began with a discussion in theology/social justice teacher Donna Hnosko’s classroom. Hnosko believes the students who slept outside for a night will learn how hard it is to sleep outside every night.

“I think they’ll get some empathy. They have it lucky with their warm beds,” said Hnosko, who slept in a chair.

As the students and staff slept, there were cameras and bright security lights, and the 8th Police District made regular checks. Participants also had access to coffee, hot chocolate and bathrooms.

The Chick-fil-A cow mascot stopped by to offer support and hand out small stuffed cows and coupons for a free breakfast chicken biscuit sandwich or four minis at the restaurant at 9711 Roosevelt Blvd.

Juniors Colin McPoyle and Aidan Socha brought a deck of cards to play before falling asleep.

McPoyle was on the stage crew for that night’s production of Into the Woods before donning a long, warm-looking bathrobe and sleeping on bays of hale.

“This is a good opportunity to see what people go through,” he said.

Socha was the first student on the lawn, setting up a small tent to spend the night.

“I thought it would be interesting to see other people’s perspective, how they might live and the difficulties they have,” he said.

Others participating were Mary Anne Benner, director of institutional advancement; Dan Clifton, director of admissions; Clifton’s 6-year-old son Noah, a first-grader at St. Anselm; and teacher Ryan Simmons. ••