Students raise money, camp out at Drake University

Simpson students, faculty and staff won’t be sleeping in their warm beds Friday night but instead will be sleeping in cardboard boxes and sleeping bags at Drake University stadium.

The Simpson Storm Sleepers is one of 42 teams that will be taking part in Reggie’s Sleepout 2006, an event raising money and promoting awareness of youth homelessness in Central Iowa.

The event is named after Reggie Kelsey, a young Iowa man that aged out of the foster care system. Reggie only functioned at a third-grade level and, after three-and-a-half months in and out of shelters, died in the Des Moines River.

As a result of Reggie’s death, Iowa Aftercare Services Network was created to aid those aging out of the foster care system. According to, this program provides a monthly stipend, a Preparation for Adult Living course and additional services.

Tiffany Hummel, Admissions counselor and team captain, became aware of the program after visiting KCCI News Web site.

“As I read about the event, I became more interested in creating a group of Simpson students, faculty and staff to support the awareness of the critical problem of youth homelessness in Central Iowa,” Hummel said.

The team’s goal is to have 50 members and to raise $500. With 28 team members from all areas of campus and a current total donation of $290, the team is over halfway to its goal.

All money raised benefits Iowa Homeless Youth Centers and The Des Moines Area Religious Council.

Sophomore Andrea Seehusen decided to join the effort to learn more about what it’s like to be a homeless youth.

“I get really used to the comfort of my life,” Seehusen said. “I’m looking forward to hopefully gaining some insight, even though I’ll only have one night to experience a life that others live everyday.”

Junior Danny Heggen is also looking forward to his upcoming experience.

“I joined the team because I knew that what we would be doing would be for a good cause,” Heggen said. “I also think it will be a good chance to meet people and connect with some other college students.”

The team will be participating in many activities throughout the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Events include musical performances by DJ Rukus, Midwestern Remedy, Hootis Band and Critical Hour, group skits, dance lessons, movies and board games.

A shelter-building contest will be one of the main activities. Very few supplies will be allowed and judging will be based on creativity, resourcefulness and skill. The winner of the contest will receive a RCA 52″ High Definition television.

Judges include Lyle Schwery, Iowa’s homeless programs coordinator, and Rory Freeman, Des Moines’ own “Survivor” participant. KCCI News Channel 8 will also be filming live weather reports for their evening and night news broadcasts.

Senior Nate Nims, who has raised $220 of the team’s $290, described his thoughts about the upcoming weekend.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing truly being homeless – to know what it’s really like,” Nims said.

Students and staff are still able to play a role in Reggie’s Sleepout 2006.

“It’s still not too late to register or donate,” Hummel said. “Students can simply visit the website and sign up for our team, or register the day of the event from 4 to 7 p.m.”