By Mike Dougherty

CAMDEN, NJ. (CBS) — Life is hard for the homeless. It’s a lesson students in Camden learned first hand as they slept outside in boxes Friday night to raise money and awareness for Covenant House.

Relentless rain and temperatures in the high 40’s are not ideal conditions for a sleep out.

“We were complaining,” said Cristalys Santiago. “We started thinking ‘wow, there are people who do this every day.'”

This wasn’t supposed to be easy. Life for the homeless is incredibly hard. That point was driven home repeatedly over the course of 12 hours on the street for 80 middle schoolers.

“The first thing that came to my mind was ‘wow, I can’t believe I’m actually doing this,'” Santiago said. But then I also realized that this is to help people who are in worse situations than I am.”

And Santiago couldn’t be more proud of the fact that they helped raise $40,000 for homeless children.

“We were actually able to give back to our community and show others that we really do care and that we want to change the stereotypes surrounding Camden,” she said.

Camden’s Promise Charter board president Zulma Gonzalez-Lombardo had high praise for the police who made sure everyone was safe.

“I couldn’t say kinder words about this group of men,” she said. “They stayed here all night.”

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