Students in Columbiana Co. experience homelessness for a night

Heartland Christian School teamed up with the Rescue Mission to raise money and encourage a spirit of service in its students

COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WYTV) – Students in Columbiana are getting a small taste of what thousands of people experience every day.

Heartland Christian School is teaming up with the Rescue Mission to have students experience a night of homelessness. It’s a project called “Mission 125” — representing the number of years the Rescue Mission has been around and the amount each participating family was asked to raise.

Two-hundred Heartland families raised $125 each for the Mission’s capital campaign in May. On Friday night, they doubled down on their support by attempting to connect with what is a reality for so many at the Mission.

“We just pray that, through this, that many more lives would be able to be touched because the Mission will be able to do what they need to do,” said Peggy Bush, a bus driver at Heartland who helped organize the event.

Heartland Christian School students and parents are sleeping outside overnight in bags, boxes, and makeshift tents. Before bed, they got a soup kitchen-style meal.

“We each get a bowl of soup, two pieces of bread, and a muffin and crackers to go with the soup,” said Brennah Osborn, an 8th grade student. “We’ll sleep outside and have a worship service.”

While the students simulate a night of homelessness, parents say it’s important for their children to realize their privilege.

“She has a bed, a warm bed, she has an iPad, she has her flat screen TV and everything,” Jennifer Posta said. “I think right now, tonight, with nothing at all besides the ground and a cardboard box, is something that she needs to feel.”

“We wanted to experience what other people experience,” Osborn said. “We are very fortunate to have all the things we have, God has blessed us very much.”

Former clients and staff from the Rescue Mission will spend the night at Heartland, too.

“To just understand that we’re all the same, our circumstances might be different,” said John Muckridge, with the Mission.

They say they’re inspired by these kids and hope it triggers a lifetime of service.

“It’s just awesome to see what the Lord is doing through this school and the kids here, and the desire just to serve people in the community,” Muckridge said. “We’re here to serve. As followers of Christ, we’re not here to be served, we’re here to serve.”

Doug Gough, a former client at the Rescue Mission, said they’re not too young to make an impact.

“What they do makes a difference and…when you care about people, amazing things happen.”

Osborn seems to have gotten that message.

“I want to be able to go out after this and show God’s love to the other people around me, and help them and help people in need,” she said.

The students will go back to the comfort of their homes on Saturday morning.