Getting Together

Seabury Community Awaits Sleep Outside


Lindsey Hornberger

Students pose for a photo at Sleep Outside. Last year the temperature got below twenty degrees allowing students to go inside.

Evan McHenry

Every year, Seabury students brave the cold weather and spend a night outside in the Seabury parking lot; this event is known as Sleep Outside. Returning students likely already know what this event is, but the new students likely do not. Essentially, the goal of the event is to raise awareness about homelessness in our community. Participating students spend the day volunteering at various local nonprofit organizations like the Lawrence Community Shelter and Just Food, to name a couple. Alongside this, the entire school community contributes canned goods and other items to the food drive in the weeks leading up to the night of Sleep Outside.
“My favorite part of sleep outside is getting to help out in the community all day,” says senior Sabrina Eicher. “It’s also great to get to volunteer alongside other upper-school students.” Eicher is one of the students organizing the event this year, along with seniors Kate Jackson and Gabriella Aubel.
Every year, faculty member Bill Gollier organizes the event along with the students. “When I came here in 2006, we started doing it,” says Gollier. “We’re a small school, and we’re collecting items for five or six different agencies. Sleep outside gives us a chance to do that–it draws attention to what we’re doing, so we get more items.”
Junior Brayden Shumaker adds to Gollier’s statement, saying, “It’s supposed to be a fun way to show solidarity with the less fortunate.” Ideally, Sleep Outside is supposed to bring together two important factors: service and solidarity.
“You can put your own life into perspective,” adds Eicher. “For a night, you get to understand what it would be like to have none of the things you take for granted in your day-to-day life. It’s also largely about the service component and contributing a day of your life to the needs of others.” While the event takes its name from sleeping in the parking lot, that is not the only facet of the operation; the event also encompasses daytime volunteering at local nonprofit agencies, as well as the organization of items collected in the food drive. In short, the event is a way to collect donations as well as serve the community.

“Everyone works a full day on different projects at different agencies,” says Eicher. “It gives everyone a chance to go outside of themselves a little bit. It’s a good high school bonding thing. It’s a good chance for the Seabury high school to actually get together.”
However, there have been some complaints that students have gotten “together” a little too much in recent years, and that the event has devolved into more of canoodling fest than it should be; many students often use the cold as a reason to get physically close with someone they are fond of. Regarding these opinions as well as claims that the event has lost its purpose, Gollier responds, “There are people who think that it’s just a bunch of kids going out and hanging out and doing whatever–and that’s fine, they can think that if they want. But for me, if we’re sitting out there and we can raise ten items–extra items for an agency–I don’t care what people think.” According to Gollier, the underlying purpose of the event is not lost.
Eicher agrees, saying, “With more and more people signing up each year to devote over a day of their time volunteering and helping to transport goods to agencies, I am hopeful that this is a sign that the purpose is not being lost but strengthened.”
Overall, the event usually is a massive success: “We usually collect 700 to 1000 items that night, and that’s worth it,” says Gollier. “That’s 700 to 1000 things that we can get for Family Promise or Willow [Domestic Violence Center] or the Lawrence Community Shelter that they wouldn’t have had if we didn’t do it, and that makes it worth it.” So despite the criticisms, Gollier thinks the event is an overall benefit to the community; however, he says, “We’ll try to keep it from having as much canoodling as it has in the past.”
Despite criticism, Sleep Outside is still a great opportunity for students to get together and contribute something important to the community; not only does the event provide an avenue for community service and high-school bonding, but also it generates a large number of items that are needed by local agencies. Overall, it allows for Seabury students to get involved and help out in their community.