More than 100 Northport High School students will experience homelessness next Thursday in an attempt to raise awareness.
Sheltering the Homeless and Needy This Year, or SHANTY, is a 16-year-old program at the school in which students spend the night in cardboard boxes, listen to experts on homelessness and eat only a peanut butter-and-jelly or cheese sandwich for dinner.
“It was the students’ idea because that’s how homeless people were living,” said Lisa Perez Flanagan, 48, of East Northport, the event’s organizer and adviser to “Students for 60,000.” In 1995 Northport High School students formed the organization, named after the number of homeless people living in New York City at the time. The students started SHANTY the same year.
“They said, ‘Let’s be one of them, let’s see what it’s like,’” Perez Flanagan said.
The annual fundraiser requires that students raise $100 to participate and is chaired by a student member of the organization. For the past two years that student has been Jake Littman, 17, a senior who wants to study international development and agriculture. This year Littman is bringing in speakers from Mineola’s Island Harvest and Hempstead’s The INN, two organizations dedicated to feeding, sheltering and clothing Long Island’s homeless.
Chloe Tagariello, 14, will be sleeping in a cardboard box Thursday, and she wants to get genuine experience of what homelessness is like.
“I’m excited for it because I’ve never done it before; I’m just nervous it’s gonna rain,” the freshman said. “If it rains you stick it out because homeless people stick it out.”
Above, students at Northport High School participate in a past SHANTY event, highlighting the plight of homelessness.