Nearly 200 people sleep on street to raise money for homeless teens

Covenant House Sleep Out

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Rampart Street was filled with 170 community leaders, professionals, and residents sleeping on cardboard boxes during Covenant House's annual Sleep Out.

The event helps to raise money and awareness for Covenant House, which helps to house at-risk and homeless teens and young adults.

"Our mission is to take each child in need who knocks on our door, no matter how little or how much we have to financially support it, but also no matter how little or how much space we have," Jim Kelly, the executive director of Covenant House New Orleans, said.

Thursday night into Friday morning the group raised more than $450,000 to help Covenant House. That money will be used to make sure the residents can find a path to independence and success, many who come from broken homes or are victims of sex trafficking.

"Eighty to 90 percent of our kids come from homes with physical or sexual abuse. They come from homes with violence, domestic violence, and trauma. Sometimes they come from good homes, but it doesn't matter where they come from, we're gonna take you in," Kelly said.

Kelly said his kids have to fight off predators in their lives and the traps in the street that can often consume a teen at risk.

"We've got a lot of mental illness in our community, we've got a lot of crime and violence in our community, and all of these things affect our kids. We see the most damaged population of young people that exist in New Orleans today, and we care for them 24/7, 365 days a year," Kelly said.

Covenant House is still short of its funding goal for 2017 and will continue to take donations. You can help by donating here.