Rutgers Off-Campus Student Living and Community Partnerships host Project Night Night for homeless

<p>Project Night Night, hosted by Off-Campus Living and Learning Community Partnerships in conjunction with Give Where You Live, created care packages for homeless children, including security blankets.</p>

Project Night Night, hosted by Off-Campus Living and Learning Community Partnerships in conjunction with Give Where You Live, created care packages for homeless children, including security blankets.

More than 2.5 million children in America are homeless, according to the American Institutes for Research. This problem affects Rutgers neighborhoods of New Brunswick, but students had the opportunity to help with "Project Night Night". 

To help children who suffer from homelessness, the Rutgers Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships hosted Project Night Night on Tuesday at 8 p.m., where students created care packages.

The goal of the event was to create free packages for homeless children with essentials including a security blanket, an age-appropriate children’s book and a stuffed animal, said Caryn Washington, assistant director for Rutgers Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships. 

“I was thrilled by the turnout for this event,” Washington said. “I hope students are able to see the importance of security by participating in this event,” she said.

Gabrielle Musso, a School of Management and Labor Relations junior, founded the Project Night Night chapter at Rutgers University. The non-profit organization originally started in California, she said. 

 "I always wanted to participate in an Adopt a Night Night package,” she said.

Musso, a participant in the Give Where You Live program, initiated the project last semester and is now executing the plan. 

“Washington and the Give Where You Live ... Board are doing a great job and a great amount of work for the project,” Musso said. “I love Rutgers and my community, and I wanted to give back. If I could do something to alleviate (children’s) stresses and worries, then I wanted to be a part of it." 

Musso was expecting far less people to come out to the event, but she said the amount of people who showed up was amazing. 

Her favorite aspect about Project Night Night is the children, she said. They motivate her to work on projects like this. 

“Specifically, I love the idea of giving them blankets to help them through their hard times because these blankets serve as security objects — relieving their stress and bringing them comfort,” she said.

People should be educated about local communities' homeless, she said, because change cannot happen unless we know that change should happen. By seeking out educational information, students will be able to create ways to make life better for these individuals.

“Children especially, should be a focus since they are our communities' future, and they should not be forgotten because of their socioeconomic status,” she said.

When starting this project at Rutgers, Musso felt as though her efforts would not make a difference. But as collections were being made, and people started showing up to the events, she realized her efforts were having an impact.

During the event, 25 blankets were made. 

“Do not just think about the items being collected, think about the children who will be receiving these objects, and how many children receiving then as well,” she said. “It is humbling and exciting at the same time." 

Musso said she would not have been able to accomplish this project without help from Alpha Phi Omega and Omega Phi Alpha, the co-sponsors for the event.

Ambika Kumaran, an Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and School of Arts and Sciences junior, attended Project Night Night because of her passion for the cause.

She loves to see how Rutgers students are able to help the community directly in New Brunswick.

People often fail to realize that there are a significant number of children without homes in New Brunswick, she said. 

“I feel that children homelessness is such an important issue because if we can aid these children we are able to help in reducing the numbers of homeless adults, thus breaking this cycle,” she said.

Every child should have the bare necessities, and while a blanket may often be something college students take for granted, it provides a sense of shelter and security to many of these kids, Kumaran said.

Because of this event, Kumaran said she has developed a larger drive to serve the community and help the children in New Brunswick.

“I believe this event definitely shed light on this issue because the service event showed how many homeless kids there were in New Brunswick alone,” she said. “It really makes you think about how many more there are and that our service is definitely valued."


Jessica Herring is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and minoring in English. She can be found on Twitter @Jesslindsey93.

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