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Burlington ‘Sleep Out’ Raises $150,000 for Homeless Teens

Burlington — Efforts to keep help homeless teenagers got a big boost in Vermont’s largest city thanks to the 90 people who slept outside in a church yard on Thursday and raised $150,000 in the process.

The second annual Spectrum Youth and Family Services “Sleep Out” raised nearly $150,000, well above last year’s total of about $95,000, to help fund programs that shelter homeless teenagers and move them toward productive lives.

The Burlington Free Press reported that temperatures dipped below 40 degrees Thursday night and many wore earplugs to avoid being kept awake by people passing by on nearby Pearl Street or by the snoring of others.

Participants felt the cold, heard the noise and experienced in a small way the vulnerability of being without a proper roof, the newspaper reported.

The event was held on the lawn of the First Universalist Society church, at the head of Church Street, but also across the street from Spectrum’s teen shelter.

The event was symbolic, but it gave participants a chance to raise money for an organization that does good work, said Tuck Rainwater, director of government and community relations at Comcast.

“It’s really powerful the way they reach into the kids’ lives and help them transform their experience,” Rainwater said.

Many of the teenagers on the streets are working to rebuild their lives after experiencing drug addiction, poverty, family dysfunction or disabling conditions.

Spectrum Executive Director Mark Redmond praised the generosity of participants, from Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger to teams from businesses including Dealer.com, Comcast, Ben & Jerry’s and a variety of community groups.