Local youth group goes homeless for a night to raise awareness f - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Local youth group goes homeless for a night to raise awareness

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Tara Ross is the girls' youth group leader at the Water's Edge Church in Lake Charles. After an accident left her husband unable to work for the past six weeks, she's been humbled by what it means to have and to not. 

"Middle class people are, like they say, about two weeks away from being homeless," she said. "God just laid it heavy on my heart that we needed to show these girls how to be the hands and feet and just raise awareness for them (homeless)."

They teamed up with The Forgotten People USA, a local organization dedicated to helping the homeless find their place in society. For weeks, The Forgotten People worked with Old Navy in Lake Charles, hosting a clothing drive and asking people to donate items to help the needy. 

"We just ask people that if you have a closet full of old jackets or anything like that clean out your closet," said Founder of The Forgotten People, Mike LeBlanc. "It's for a great cause."

The drive culminated this weekend when the Water's Edge group put themselves in the shoes of the homeless, sleeping overnight in cardboard boxes. Even in the near freezing weather, they made the most of their makeshift homes. 

"It's a life changing experience because we see them and never know how they make it through," said Jennifer Jones, a youth group participant who camped out in a box. 

"My house might not be the biggest and baddest thing but it's a roof over my head," said Nikki Logan, another youth group participant. 

They did more than just talk the talk. They put action behind their mission. During the night, the group visited a homeless woman on Broad Street, bringing her fresh water, food, sleeping bags and hand warmers before leaving her in prayer. 

"You don't always have to give monetarily," said Ross. "You can love people. You can serve people."

While the Water's Edge group plans to continue their service locally, The Forgotten People's journey is just beginning.

"We're starting off in New Orleans on Dec. 2 and we're going all the way to New York stopping in seven states and eight different cities and we're going to just go and hit the homeless population on full," said LeBlanc. 

The catalyst for what they hope to be a long-term project helping a people, sometimes forgotten. 

"We don't want to just go on one trip and say that's done," said Devin LaPorte. "We want to meet with people in those communities and say, 'hey, is this something that you can see sustaining your community for you', " he said.

If you'd like to donate clothing items before The Forgotten People leave for their East Coast tour on Dec. 2, the Water's Edge drop-off information is listed below: 

Water's Edge Church
2760 Power Centre Pkwy
Lake Charles, La. 70607

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