Team World Link does it again! For the third year in a row, our World Link #FLEX and #KLYES students placed in Iowa beat their own record for most money fundraised benefitting homeless youth. Moreover, they raised the most money by any group participating in this year’s Reggie’s Sleepout event, earning them a free dinner in Drake Stadium’s press box!
About Reggie’s Sleepout
For more than a decade, World Link students have been participating in Reggie’s Sleepout. The event was started by Iowa Homeless Youth Centers (IHYC) in response to the death of Reggie Kelsey back in 2001. Once Kelsey aged out of the foster care system, he became homeless due to the lack of resources available to him. Within 3 1/2 months, he was found dead in the Des Moines River. Reggie’s Sleepout has been held annually since 2005 and has raised over $2 million for homeless and at-risk youth.
This year, Reggie’s Sleepout was excited to host the actual overnight event after taking a two-year break for COVID-19 precautions. As part of the overnight event, teams create cardboard structures to sleep in as a way to raise awareness of the experiences of homeless youth.
Team World Link 2022 Fundraising Success
Students put in a lot of hard work to collect donations for Reggie’s Sleepout. They went door-to-door in their neighborhoods. Many held bake sales at their schools, local churches, or parks. Some got permission to have a donation table at their local grocery stores. Our YES student Kenda from West Bank and her host family decided to put on a garage sale to raise money. Our FLEX student Eduard from Romania went to a local winery and offered to harvest grapes for his Reggie’s donations.
After all their efforts, Team World Link raised over $16,500 to help homeless youth in Iowa. This amount is an all-time record for Team World Link!
Top 5 Fundraisers:
Here are the top 5 Team World Link fundraisers for Reggie’s Sleepout 2022:
- Maral Batsaikhan (Mongolia) with $1819! She is the top fundraiser in World Link’s history of participating in the event!
- Antoni Rrapi (Albania) with $1416.
- Maria Stefanidou (Greece) with $1388.
- Eduard Serban (Romania) with $1113.
- Saidamir Egamberdiev (Uzbekistan) with $1023.
Amazing work to all our World Link students who collected donations for Reggie’s Sleepout this year. Each dollar is going towards a great cause!
Our Yellow Submarine
This year’s cardboard structure idea was thought of by our lead local coordinator for the event, Kelly Rooney-Kozak. During the brainstorming session, some other ideas were tossed around but ultimately the team unanimously voted to go with the Yellow Submarine, inspired by the famous Beatles song.
Using Beatles songs for inspiration is not uncommon with World Link’s Eastern Region. At conferences, these students form a giant circle with their arms wrapped over each other’s shoulders, swaying together while singing John Lennon’s, “Imagine”. It’s a powerful moment when youth from anywhere between 20-30 different countries come together to sing a song about world peace.
In similar thinking, the Yellow Submarine is also a symbol and commitment to world peace. While we are all diverse, we are all in the same boat. It’s a symbol of many cultures coming together to make a difference. It represents World Link students, coming together for one mission; to raise money to help homeless and at-risk youth.
Nuray from Kazakhstan agrees, “For me, the yellow submarine symbolizes the whole diversity of our World Link exchange students from all over the world. It means that even though we all have different cultures, we still are a team that loves to work together in order to help others.”
While it may not be the exact interpretation the Beatles intended, the box design contest judges found it to be an impactful message. They awarded Team World Link’s structure, “Best In Show”!
While building the structure, some World Link students were interviewed by KCCI8 News about their Reggie’s Sleepout experience. Check out the news segment here.
After the event concluded, World Link asked students to tell us what they learned about fundraising, what skills they developed, and how their Reggie’s Sleepout experience affected them.
“Fundraising was an excellent learning opportunity. I understood that networking and spending time with members of your community is the key to success. I learned that with enough willpower and motivation, I could accomplish great things that I would have never thought I’d do!” – Ikram Labaid (Morocco)
“The most important lesson that I learned when I was fundraising is that you don’t have to be shy when you’re asking for money that is going to a good cause. Fundraising takes patience and skill.” – Kenda Shqair (West Bank)
“Before Reggie’s, like everybody else, I was aware of how hard it might be to be homeless, but I didn’t really think about it. After this experience, I know and even just for a night, I felt how challenging it is to be homeless. And I had my friends next to me, I couldn’t even imagine how hard this must be all alone. Now I look at homeless people as warriors, who fight through each day and night, and never give up.” – Barnabas Nagy (Hungary)
“I said yes to this opportunity to learn how to help people who need it. We all should realize that one fact- even only one person can impact many others’ lives and become their reason for happiness. I strongly consider that now, this work is my priority.” – Natali Tuniashvili (Georgia)
Thank you to YSS for organizing such a life-changing event. Not only for homeless youth but also for our World Link students. Reggie’s Sleepout is always a great way for our students to start their exchange year!
Read about past Reggie’s Sleepout events here:
Top of the Top! Reggie’s At-Home Event 2021
Sleeping “Under the Same Stars” to Raise Money for Iowa Homeless Youth