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‘Homelessness can happen to anyone’

Baker High School students (from left) Kirby Socker, Elizabeth Wisely, Sarah Dugan, Grace Santoro, Sarah Karl, Christine Linnenbach, Emily Soeder, Melissa Voyer and Gretchen Grage get cozy in their cardboard box. The girls spent the night in their makeshift shelter to help raise awareness about the Central New York homeless population and to raise money for the Rescue Mission.

Baker High School students (from left) Kirby Socker, Elizabeth Wisely, Sarah Dugan, Grace Santoro, Sarah Karl, Christine Linnenbach, Emily Soeder, Melissa Voyer and Gretchen Grage get cozy in their cardboard box. The girls spent the night in their makeshift shelter to help raise awareness about the Central New York homeless population and to raise money for the Rescue Mission.

— Nine girls recently spent the night in a cardboard box – no phones, no music and, most importantly, no food or drink.

Kirby Socker, Elizabeth Wisely, Sarah Dugan, Grace Santoro, Sarah Karl, Christine Linnenbach, Emily Soeder, Melissa Voyer and Gretchen Grage, all Baker High School students, gave up these comforts to help raise awareness about Central New York’s homeless population. With temperatures hovering near freezing on the evening of Nov. 2, the girls gathered around a fire sharing stories then bundled together for warmth inside their box before dozing off.

Their message: “Homelessness can happen to anyone.”

This isn’t their first night in a makeshift shelter, either. This is the girls’ fourth year participating in a national campaign spearheaded by the Rescue Mission.

“The Rescue Mission works every day to alleviate homelessness and hunger in our community,” said Lisa Santoro, who has helped the girls organize the event every year. “The girls’ efforts help to raise awareness of the dire situation that exists for many people and the money they have raised helps to feed, shelter and clothe people who are hungry and homeless.”

The girls spent two weeks preparing for their fundraiser. They approached neighbors, friends, family and local businesses asking for donations. In previous years, they raised $600, $900 and $2,000, consecutively. This year’s goal was to raise $4,000. As of their overnight, they had $3,550.

“I'm really proud of how they took on a goal of $4,000,” Santoro said. “They had a plan to approach Baldwinsville businesses with letters to get the word out for the Rescue Mission and it worked.”

The girls would like to thank the following businesses for their generosity: The Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 267; Brian King Construction; Arrow Fence; Burdick BMW; Bentley-Hall Inc.; Seneca Federal Savings; Dr. Mary Green; Insight Out; Mohegan Manor; Rikreations Family Hair Care; and Timothy F. McMahon, Attorney at Law.

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