Once again, World Link international exchange students placed in the Des Moines area came out as the top fundraisers for the Reggie’s Sleepout event; held at Drake University. This annual event raises money for the Iowa Homeless Youth Center and raises awareness on the challenges homeless youth face by having participants create and sleep under cardboard structures for one cool fall night.
This year, the group shattered their $5,000 goal by raising $8,633!
Reggie’s Sleepout was created in 2005 in the memory of Reggie Kelsey, a young man suffering from hallucinations and depression who aged out of the foster care system and within 3 1/2 months was found deceased. Unfortunately, Reggie did not see his 19th birthday so in his honor, World Link students from 19 different countries wanted to create an inspirational theme for their cardboard structure, “Excelling Past 19 and Beyond”; a birthday cake with 19 candles on top.
With the structure about 75% complete the day of the event, rainstorms and lightening began, forcing participants to seek shelter in the indoor stadium. The weather unfortunately did not let up, so sleeping under their structure was not an option, and the structure competition did not take place. The next day though, theirs was only one of two cardboard structures still standing.
Our students were disappointed in the shortened event, but proud of all they had accomplished. We are proud of them as well and would like to highlight the top World Link fundraisers for this event.
World Link Team Top Reggie’s Sleepout Fundraisers:
Top Fundraiser: Hiba Ouzaouit (Morocco/IA): $800.70
“Since very young, whenever winter comes, I cannot not think about these people who do not have somewhere to call home, whose bed is the ground, or if lucky a box, and whose blanket is a sky full of stars. I have always wondered how do they survive in this tough world without having somewhere to get protected from rain and snow…I have always felt guilty to not be able to do something for them, and always wished I can make a little difference to improve at least one person’s life. And thanks to World Link, my dream came true! With my willingness, hard work and motivation I fund raised $800 and achieved my goal. It is absolutely something I will be proud of my whole life. Spending the night outside or not, it doesn’t really matter since it wouldn’t make someone’s life better as the fundraising did, and I can assume that I did great in that.”
Hiba raised this money through asking for donations door-to-door; giving presentations about the cause at her high school, and inviting friends and family over to enjoy a traditional Moroccan dessert in exchange for a donation.
Meermai Stanova (Kyrgyzstan/IA): $568.84
Viktoriya Nychay (Ukraine/IA) $548.53
Behruz Garibov (Tajikistan/IA) and Yash Saboo (India/IA) each: $508.50
Behruz and Yash are exchange brothers and powerhouse volunteers. When these two set their mind to something, there is no stopping them. Together they raised over $1,000 for Reggie’s Sleepout through bake sales, car washes, and social media awareness campaigns by sharing this video they made.
Sofiya Anisimova (Ukraine/IA): $437.31
Aleksandra Drlijevic (Montenegro/IA): $405.00
World Link is proud of their 34 international exchange students who raised at least $100 to be a part of this event. World Link would also like to thank community supporters who donated to the World Link Team online fundraising page as well as host siblings and American peers who also raised money for this great cause.
As our student Gustavs Klavis (Latvia/IA) said, “We definitely saved some lives.” Yes you did, and we could not be more proud of everyone’s efforts!
Read about the success of last year’s event here.