DETROIT (WWJ) – A group of teenagers got a first-hand look at what it’s like to spend the night without electricity, or even a roof over their heads.

The youth group from Geneva Presbyterian Church camped out Thursday night in the church’s parking lot, sleeping in cardboard boxes around a bon fire — all to raise awareness about the plight of the homeless.

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Fifteen-year-old Joshua Dooring told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas the longer he stayed out in the cold, he realized how much harder even the simplest things could become.

“When we got here at 8 o’clock last night, it wasn’t that bad. But as the night wore on and we got into our boxes, it got pretty cold,” he said. “The hardest thing was probably just the weather and trying to sleep because when you’re cold, it’s really hard to sleep. So, none of us really got any sleep last night.”

Before wrapping up around 7 a.m. Friday, students talked about their experience with advisors. Seventeen-year-old Madeline Degler said she knew people were homeless, but didn’t realize the many struggles they can face.

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“I think it’s really easy for us in Canton to not think about the homeless because we don’t see it every day, but there are a lot of homeless people, especially in Detroit, and they need these donations, especially since it’s winter,” she said.

A second part of the sleep-out is to draw donations for the Open Door program for the homeless, organized by the Fort Street Presbyterian Church. Church Elder Angie Stark said they’re hoping to collect enough clothing donations to fill up a semi-truck.

“We’re looking for coats, blankets, mittens and then any dress clothes, they have a career closet, so any dress clothes would be great for a donation,” she said.

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Donations will be accepted through January 10 at Geneva Presbyterian Church, located at 5835 Sheldon Road in Canton.