Peter Larson was a first-grade Cub Scout the first time he camped out for a cause—raising awareness about and money for homeless people by sleeping outside in frigid Minnesota weather.
Now 17 and a senior at Wayzata High School, Peter has completed his 12th and final wintry season of sleeping outside in a cardboard box in his backyard in Plymouth, Minn., raising more than $500,000 to combat homelessness since that first night.
“It feels good,” says Peter, coming in from the cold on Jan. 1 after his final 48-night sleep-out.
American Profile featured Peter in a 2009 cover story, prompting many of our readers to contribute money to support his efforts through Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income families obtain affordable housing in the Minneapolis area.
Because the average cost to help one homeless family for a year is $2,000, Peter now can sleep well knowing he has helped more than 250 families.
“One person really can make a huge difference, even if they start small,” says Peter, who plans to study computer science in college beginning this fall.
“It all adds up.”