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Ogden group's unique fundraiser gives better understanding of homeless youth's struggles

By Ashley Moser | Posted - Mar. 4, 2017 at 7:44 a.m.

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OGDEN — At last count, the population of Utah's homeless was right around 2,800. A portion of that number is young — under 18 — with no family to turn to. A Point-In-Time Count conducted last year showed there were 150 unaccompanied youth in the streets. Many find shelter on sidewalks with just a piece of cardboard and if they're lucky, a blanket.

A night out in the cold is one way a group in Ogden raised funds for homeless youth. Friday night, nearly three-dozen camped out in a parking lot at Weber State University.

The “Sleep Out” event was organized by Youth Futures, Ogden’s first youth homeless shelter that opened its doors in 2015.

“Every kid that comes through has a different story and some of them are pretty heartbreaking,” said Kristen Mitchell, the shelter’s executive director. “They are kicked out, they are thrown out, they are forgotten and they slip through the cracks.”

Mitchell said the shelter is currently housing 14 teenagers from all walks of life. She said 5,000 kids in Utah experience at least one night of homeless a year.

With this event, Mitchell hopes others can prevent that.

“It just brings awareness: a little piece of the reality of what these kids might go through and it's only a piece,” she said.

Cayla Sharp and her group were able to raise $500 for the shelter through the fundraiser.

“Layers, it’s all about layers,” Sharp said.

Sharp said she did everything she could to prepare by bringing a sleeping bag and extra clothes, but admits it is hard to truly understand what it would be like to live in these conditions.

"I just can't even imagine what it's like to grow up or to have to be homeless in an area like this,” she said.

Youth Futures had a goal of raising $30,000 Friday night to put toward their services, which include beds for a night and three meals a day. The event helped them raise $22,000.

For more information on donating, click here.

Contributing: Xoel Cardenas


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