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A Cold Day In The Life Of The Homeless

SCRANTON — On a cold, snowy day, a group of students at the University of Scranton is learning what it’s like to be homeless in rough winter conditi...

SCRANTON -- On a cold, snowy day, a group of students at the University of Scranton is learning what it's like to be homeless in rough winter conditions.

They spent the day on the streets and will also be out in the cold overnight.

A group of University of Scranton students headed out of the warm comforts on campus into the cold streets of Scranton. They had no cell phones, little money, and the challenge to live life as if they were homeless.

"Just doing this on a day like today, it's going to be cold, it's going to be challenging," said senior Nick Longobardi.

But they know this is what the least fortunate face every day, even when temperatures are around 20. The students broke up into groups and were each given simple tasks the homeless face; a scavenger hunt of sorts including searching the trash for something useful.

"Staying warm is just going to be the main goal of today, finding food, finding places where we can be warm. That's going to be the main goal," Longobardi said.

For food, the students went to the St. Francis of Assisi soup kitchen. They went through the same line so many who are really in need did on this bitter cold day.

Once they were back on the street, one group headed to a noon mass at St. Peter's Cathedral, a way to stay warm, at least for a little while.

"We've been taking so many things for granted and you don't realize what winter really is like when you're inside with hot chocolate and your Netflix, just sitting while there's no school," said sophomore Megan Calascibetta.

There is no school yet at the "U". These students chose a weeklong retreat to learn about homelessness and do this.

"So far it's been going very well. We're doing very well as a group, but it's definitely an eye opener," said grad student John Mayer.

When the students come back here to campus at the end of the day, they may think it's time to go in and get warm. That's not the case. The organizers have more in store for them, more time outdoors into the night.

"It's going to be a surprise for us. We're going to have to live in the elements. We have to see how it goes by the minute," Calascibetta said.

As part of this weeklong retreat at the University of Scranton, the students will also be doing volunteer work to help the homeless, which will likely be even more rewarding after their experience in the cold.