For many of us, it can be easy to forget about the struggles homeless people face.
Barely getting by, going hungry and having no place to sleep, especially in the cold of winter, are all things homeless people must endure on a regular basis. And that’s why the work being done by the Woodmore High School Key Club is so impressive.
Recently, the group has been working to help raise money and awareness about the problem for the cause, including hosting a “Box City” event Feb. 1 on the school premises raised more than $1,300 for the Cherry Street Mission Ministries in Toledo.
The group of 15 braved a cold, windy night right outside the front door to the high school.
“We (held the event) on the weekend because of the cold,” said Alex Sandwisch, the president of the group. “We wanted to get the full effect of sleeping outside in the cold in only a box like many homeless people have to deal with every day. By the end of the night, we all had an appreciation for the little things like a warm bed and heating. It was an amazing experience.”
Brian Ryman, the group's advisor, spoke about the kids’ enthusiasm for holding the event outside during the cold weather.
“(The kids) said they wanted to do ‘Box City’ in January or February and I said that it’s pretty cold,” Ryman said. “They responded, ‘Well, people aren’t just homeless during the summer.’”
But this is only a small part of what the Key Club does.
In the fall, the group held two separate events – Trick or Treat for UNICEF, held in October, and a canned food drive for Thanksgiving in November, the proceeds of which were donated to Grace Lutheran Church in Elmore.
“This year is my first year as the Key Club faculty advisor,” Ryman said. “It's an organization (where) the kids join and you do helpful things for the community and engage in community service projects. We try to do a project each month. It’s all about projects and the community. And I don't get a stipend from the school (or anything).”
The “Box City” event has been held several times before. According to Ryman, the kids went out into the community and got pledges from people while raising awareness about the cause. NBC 24 also featured a segment on the event – something that helped to spread the word.
The parent organization of Key Club, Kiwanis International, is a global, coeducational service organization “dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.”
“We vote, it’s all student-led and student-run – they nominate and elect the officers,” Ryman said. “I'm just there to make sure it all goes well. Alex runs all the meetings and the agendas – she's done a fantastic job as Key Club president.”
Ryman, a graduate of Ashland Univ., also speaks highly of the Elmore and Woodville communities.
“I've been at Woodmore for five years,” he said, “One of the things that I notice about Woodmore students is we have a lot of kids that really enjoy community service and giving back. That's something I didn't really see in high school. That speaks a lot to our community and our values and our school. We have two of these kinds of organizations thriving, Key Club and the National Honor Society.”
To make a donation to the Cherry Street Mission, call manager of donor communications Amy Ambrose at 419-242-5141 or visit the website at www.cherrystreetmission.org/ donate.
Woodmore senior Chris Hines peeks out of his box during Key Club’s Box City. Hines was one of more than a dozen students who spent the night outdoors to raise awareness about homelessness. (Window To Woodmore photo by Abby Sullivan)