by Geoff Fox
About 15 students at Hancock Middle-Senior High School spent last Friday night, May 13, raising awareness for kids who are less fortunate than themselves.
Since 2013, students have participated in the activity. It was canceled for two years due to the pandemic.
The students in the Interact Club either slept in decorated boxes outside or in sleeping bags inside.
Rain was in the forecast for Friday night, so students were given the choice of staying outside or going inside should it rain.
Students were playing basketball, card games, and volleyball, having snacks, crafts, cornhole, and hanging out with friends.
“They’re just here to have fun and they’re hoping to stay awake the whole time,” Teacher Amanda Norris said.
In prepping for the event, Norris said there’ s a lot of paperwork that has to be approved of by the Board of Education, setting things up at the school, reaching out to sponsors in the community, and the kids working on their boxes.
Norris said some kids spent two weeks on their box, others made them that day.
“The big thing is working out scheduling with BACA since they come in shifts,” Norris said.
BACA stands for Bikers Against Child Abuse.
Norris said this year has been important because the seven-year tradition had been interrupted by COVID.
“This is just us trying to get back to normal,” she said, adding the kids were excited to get back to having the sleepover.
It also allows the kids to continue the relationship with BACA members, who act as mentors and educators.
Dogg, who is the media spokesperson for the BACA group who stayed at Hancock Middle-Senior High School, has been coming to Hancock events since the very beginning in 2013.
Hancock has a special place in BACA ’s heart, Dogg said.
There was a child who had been abused and ended up dying from the abuse. Dogg said BACA got involved because a child told their parents to call the “bikers who help abused children.”
“It wasn’t an adult who recommended us, it was another child – a young child,” Dogg said.
There was also support and guidance from former Police Chief T.J. Buskirk, Dogg added.
He said it means “a lot” and the children have a grasp of what’ s going on outside their school walls and under- standing what other children who aren’ t as fortunate are going through.
Those children, Dogg said, don’ t have a family or hot meal to go home to, and the kids in Hancock are doing their part in raising awareness to that.
“That means a lot with all the crazy shit that’s going on in the world today,” he said, “to see the young children stepping up and saying, ‘Let’s see if we can make a difference.”
Dogg said there aren’ t many schools who think out- side the box like Hancock does.
“I appreciate that,” he said.
Some schools stereotype bikers as bad people, but BACA is there to empower kids to not be afraid and take back their lives, Dogg said.
The rest of the time, BACA is working with the children themselves, not fundraising.
“If you’ re out doing fundraising and awareness, then you’re taking time away from those who need us most, and that’ s abused children,” Dogg said. “And that’ s our total focus.”
Josie Foltz and Brianna Buskirk were two of the students staying the night at the high school last Friday and both have done so in the past. Foltz said it is “a lot of fun” hanging out with the BACA members and meeting new people.
While she didn’t decorate a box this year, Foltz said she was planning on sleeping in one.
Foltz said there were more BACA members than in years past and they’re interacting more.
She made some chicken tacos and other food for the event.
Buskirk was in eighth grade when she first did the sleepover.
She said it’s a good thing for the school community as it brings everyone together and also being an activist for child abuse awareness, which she calls a “major issue still in society.”
It’s also a way to raise some funds for BACA and the Interact Club. The Interact Club, she noted, supports the community through volunteer services.
Buskirk created a box resembling a unit from Hancock Rescue Squad.
Buskirk said she was looking forward to spending time with BACA members and her friends.