Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homeless for a Night, Swing Dancing, and a Little Bit of Apple Pie

A few weekends ago, along with a van full of other Point students, I attempted something that I never imagined. I became homeless for a night. Every year the City of West Point (soon to be Point University's new home) holds fundraiser to help the homeless in the area. Participants sleep on a football field in cardboard boxes in an attempt to understand what it is like to be homeless.

There was food, smores, and a concert of local bands. There was also a contest for the best cardboard home and the prize was an iPad. Unfortunately when we arrived all of the boxes had been claimed by the middle school and high school participants. At 10pm the organizers promised us that the boxes were coming. So for hours, waiting on boxes, planning to make a cardboard masterpiece, we got to know the people we will be neighbors with next year. Point students, kids, and adults played silly games like red rover and duck, duck, goose. There was soccer and football. It was freezing, but we were having too much fun to notice. Around 3am it became obvious that we would not be receiving cardboard boxes, exhausted and a little disappointed that the Point students were out of the running for the iPad, we all decided to go to sleep underneath the stage, where the concert was held. Shortly after we had all bundled into our sleeping bags, the guy heading up the event made an announcement. Because we did not get a chance to make a cardboard home, there was going to be a talent show. We had five minutes to prepare and the winner would receive a gift card to Wal-Mart for $125. Throughout the night, another Point student, Shaun, had taught me some swing dancing moves. We decided to dance for the show. Point students, Frank and Caleb, did cartwheels and some odd run and jump onto each other thing. Justin and Joseph failed at juggling. Chris and Dustin became German bodybuilders and performed a couple questionable exercises. Shaun and I danced and did that awesome "swing-the-girl-around-your waist-in-the-air" move. Shaun and I won and then we all went to sleep underneath the stage. A few of the guys hung hammocks from the stage. At 5:30am Frank, better know as "Big Frank", began jumping on the stage we were sleeping under and banging metal against the metal beams of the stage. Disgruntled, we forgave him as we drove back to school. I know Frank was trying to be funny, but it made me think that homeless people probably are rudely awaken all the time, by the police or the cold or the sun. Being homeless for a night made me appreciate the warm dorm room I have to sleep in every night.

A week later, I was in West Point again for the annual Christmas Parade. We created a Point University float. It was supposed to look like a train, but it may have looked more like a dog! The float was stuffed with Point University students and as we made our way down the parade route, we obnoxiously sang Christmas Carols, getting the audience to sing along. When we were passing the McDonald's on the parade route a man started running towards our float. I was confused and concerned that he was going to try to jump over the trailer hitch holding the truck and the float together. Instead, the man handed us a McDonald's bag full of apple pies. Where else would that happen? Only in what is know as the Greater Valley area, which contains West Point, Lanett, and the student housing in Valley.

I am so excited to move there! Where we have a community of middle and high schoolers to befriend and mentor, where we can be silly and have fun playing kid's games, and where the people are genuinely compassionate and go out of their way to give to us.

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