Leechburg students raise awareness for disaster relief by camping out in cold | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Leechburg students raise awareness for disaster relief by camping out in cold

Madasyn Lee
Ava Ferretti, a member of Leechburg Area School District’s Interact Club, bundles up inside a ShelterBox as club members camped out Nov. 1 at two borough churches.
Interact Club members Brenna Callahan and Andrew Pallus work with ShelterBox representative Marie Grant to set up a tent this month in Leechburg.
Members of Leechburg Area School District’s Interact Club set up tents this month on the lawns of the borough’s Cross Roads Community Presbyterian Church and Leechburg First United Methodist Church.

Freezing overnight temperatures didn’t stop students from Leechburg Area School District’s Interact Club from pitching tents outside two borough churches on Nov. 1.

The students braved the chilly weather and spent the night in family-size tents to raise awareness for ShelterBox, an international disaster relief charity that gives temporary shelters and tools to victims of natural disasters or conflicts.

“By spending the evening there and spending overnight there, it helps everybody to kind of gain a better understanding of what it’s really like to live with such minimal material items,” said Michelle Ferretti, a Leechburg Area teacher and Interact Club sponsor.

Ferretti said she also wanted the students to understand that the temporary shelters can serve as “such a blessing and such a relief” for those who have lost everything.

Since 2000, ShelterBox has helped more than 1.5 million people in over 100 countries by providing ShelterBoxes and ShelterKits. ShelterBoxes contain large tents and other items people might need while displaced. ShelterKits have toolkits, ropes, fasteners and heavy-duty tarps that can be used to build and repair homes.

It took eight members of the club for seventh- through 12th-graders less than a half-hour to erect the tents on the lawns of Cross Roads Community Presbyterian Church and Leechburg First United Methodist Church, both on the borough’s Main Street.

“The temperatures dipped down into the 20s that night, and there was a heavy frost when we got up Saturday morning,” Ferretti said.

In the morning, the club set up a ShelterBox information table and slideshow at the Leechburg Rotary Club’s pancake breakfast.

They collected $300 in donations for the organization, which will go toward Shelter­Kits that cost about $100 apiece. The Interact Club is an extension of the Leechburg Rotary Club and does community service projects.

Anyone interested in donating to this or other Interact Club projects can mail checks to the high school at 215 First St. Note the project of choice on the memo line.

Madasyn Lee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at [email protected], 724-226-4702 or via Twitter.

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