NEWARK, N.J.- On March 24, following the New Jersey Devils home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Devils alumni, employees and fans will gather for an unprecedented effort to help the homeless youth of New Jersey by sleeping outside on Prudential Center's Championship Plaza to help raise funds and awareness for Covenant House New Jersey.
"Prudential Center and the New Jersey Devils are honored to partner with outstanding non-profits like Covenant House to have a transformative impact on youth in our communities and around the world," said Hugh Weber, President of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which includes in its portfolio the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. "Leveraging the power of sports and entertainment as a platform to better the lives of people in our communities is a commitment we hold close to our hearts and we look forward to ensuring the 'Sleep Out' is an impactful experience for everyone involved."
"By hosting this first-ever Sleep Out, the New Jersey Devils organization is stepping up in a way that will help us reach homeless kids and transform their lives," said Covenant House New Jersey Executive Director Jim White. "We will not only raise funds for essential food, clothing, shelter, medical care and educational and job training. On March 24, the Devils will also be sending a message that homeless kids desperately need to hear…that we care about them. We believe in their promise and together, we will become a unified voice for all the homeless and trafficked kids in New Jersey with no voice of their own."
The Sleep Out will begin following the game at approximately 10:15 p.m. and kickoff with an inspirational panel discussion. Volunteers will have the opportunity to hear from and meet formerly homeless youth, including Ashley, who was living in the woods in Asbury Park when Covenant House Outreach Team brought him to the shelter four years ago. Today, Ashley is a valued employee of Prudential Center and will selflessly share his story with Sleep Out participants on March 24.
"I have never been afraid to walk in my truth," said 24-year-old Ashley. "If I can help raise awareness so that just one more kid gets the kind of help I've gotten from Covenant House and the people at Prudential Center, it will all be worth it."
Participants will be provided with cardboard boxes and sleeping bags for the night. To conclude the night, a morning discussion will take place where those involved in the sleep out will have the opportunity to reflect on the impact of the event.
"My teammates and I are fortunate enough to live out our lifelong dreams of playing hockey in front of the greatest fans in the world…Yet we know that there are thousands of kids across New Jersey who are living a nightmare on the streets, which is heartbreaking to all of us." Said New Jersey Devils Captain, Andy Greene. " However, there is hope for these children and it's great to know that we play for an organization like the New Jersey Devils that is dedicated to improving the lives of homeless youth. It is with the help of everyone that we can ensure they too can have a bright future."
"The more I've learned about what Covenant House is doing for homeless youth throughout New Jersey, the more excited I've become to have the Devils be part of the Covenant House mission," said Jeff Scott, Vice President of Community Investment and Grassroots. "Many of our employees have visited the youth at Covenant House, and have been inspired by their courage, resiliency, and optimism. We're grateful to have the opportunity to open our doors at Prudential Center to make a difference in the lives of homeless youth in this unique, powerful way." Those interested in participating in this important and impactful event can visit www.NJDevilsSleepOut.org.
ABOUT COVENANT HOUSE:
Covenant House New Jersey provides food, shelter, immediate crisis care, and essential services such as education and job training to homeless youth in seven cities across New Jersey. When you Sleep Out, you help us keep the lights on and doors open for the thousands of kids who seek a way off the streets this each year.