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When most college students were packing suntan lotion and heading for the waves, a small group in Texas decided to spend their spring break another way. In order to gain a new perspective on the problem of homelessness, the students lived on the streets for three days. As Reed Galin reports, it’s an experiment that they say forever changed them.

 
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SCRIPT:

They left behind their cell phones and iPods…

“Every part of my body hurts.”

… to learn some hard lessons about life on the streets.

Kimmy: “I’ve never woken up with dust and sand in my mouth. I can’t imagine going through it every single day. Last night was the longest night of my life.”

Reaching out to the homeless, members of the youth group from First United Methodist Church in Round Rock, Texas, are walking a mile in their shoes. Actually 10 miles. That’s how far they have to go to reach a charitable agency.

Worker:  “Ok, one adult picnic food transient lunch. Ok.”

At an Austin shelter, they stand in line with people who are truly homeless. A drawing determines who’s lucky enough to spend the night indoors.

“That’s a good number, 18 – you’re in.”

Typically, dozens are turned away.

Paige: “Where do you sleep if you can’t get shelter?”

“Um, anywhere.”

Faces of the homeless have left a lasting impression.

Paige: “It’s just made me realize how well I have it and how much these people need help, and that they’re not just bums.  I saw families who are really in need at that serving center.  I just really want to go help the homeless now.”

During the 3-day experience, students slept under a bridge close to the state capital. Temperatures were in the 40’s with a cold wind.

“It was just like sleeping in ice.”

They also worked at a kitchen in a Salvation Army shelter.

Bob Rosales / Salvation Army Chef:  “Shows you that there’s still a lot of good people in this world.”

Now off the streets, these students promise a commitment to work harder to make changes in others’ lives.

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Surveys show one of the main reasons for homelessness is the lack of affordable housing, and that families with children make up 40 percent of the homeless population.

For more on this story, go to http://www.umc.org/interior.asp?ptid=2&mid=7123.