CHARLOTTE -- Instead of kicking off Memorial Day weekend by cooking out with their families, 35 teenagers are going without food and shelter all to benefit the hungry both locally and worldwide. The Saint Matthew Catholic Church youth group has been doing this fast for more than a decade and each year it benefits a different social justice cause. This year, it's benefiting two area food banks.
Youth group member and Charlotte Catholic High School senior John Armstrong says there are two times where it gets tough during the 29-hour fast.
"When you first wake up, and when you're waiting for the dinner that they do after the mass for us," he said.
During the holiday weekend, they're doing service projects, ice breakers and group discussions all without food.
"It's not actually that hard, because you're up and doing activities and service projects. So you're not on the whole idea of not eating. Your mind is moving and you just don't feel hungry,” said Krista Jasso, a member of the youth group and a sophomore at Weddington High School.
The teens recognize while they do it for just one weekend, and by choice, it's not that simple for others in our community and around the world.
"Just doing it for 29 hours, we can feel a little part of their lives, and it makes it seem like their lives are incredibly hard and we're just amazed at how they do it,” said Jasso.
The annual event draws out more students than any other event.
"They're just hungry to do service and to do missions and to help people, and they just want to be here, and it's a good experience for them,” said Katie Dunne, the youth minister at Saint Matthew Catholic Church.
Dunne says not eating for 29 hours and sleeping in cardboard boxes is actually a selling point.
"I think just the idea of something so foreign to them, they want to understand it, and just be a part of something that's bigger than just them,” said Dunne.
They hope others realize how even a small donation, can help a lot of people in need.
"We just want to let them know that it doesn't stop, it occurs, but we can make a difference to change it,” said Jasso.
The group hopes to raise $30,000 through this one event. The funds will benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and Stop Hunger Now.