Tonawanda News — Year after year, no matter how cold the temperatures, they’re there — one way or another.
The 26th annual Jerry Starr Ken-Ton Schools Sleep-out took place from 8 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. today at Hoover Middle School in the Town of Tonawanda. The event, sponsored by the group Educators Totally Committed, brings together a mix of adults and students to camp out in the school’s parking lot near the Sheridan Drive pedestrian overpass, gathering donations and raising awareness for the poor and homeless in Western New York.
ETC member Stephen Ash, a retired math teacher, said Friday that he was getting 55 refrigerator boxes from Sears for the group, providing a spot where campers could shelter from the cold. The temperature in the Town of Tonawanda was predicted to dip to 14 degrees (with a -1 wind chill) overnight.
“The temperatures will be chilly, but we’ll be there,” he said. “I’d rather have 5 inches of snow and 35 degrees than 2 inches of snow and 16 degrees ... but the homeless don’t get a choice and neither do we. That may put a dent in our numbers, but we’ll be out there.”
Ash hoped for 30 people for the sleep-out, about 15 kids and adults. He was planning to encourage people to take breaks in the school’s cafeteria, if necessary, for protection against the elements.
During a portion of the evening, the group collected donations of cash, food, clothes, personal care items and small furniture for a number of agencies, including New Calvary Convenant Baptist Church in the Town of Tonawanda and Little Portion Friary, The Response to Love Center, Gospel Expansion Foundation, South Buffalo Community Table and Community Action Information Center in Buffalo.
Ash said that St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy in Buffalo also picked up 50 to 80 bags of gently used clothes donated for those who need them.