It's unsettling to imagine a homeless kid on the streets, so many just pretend the problem doesn't exist.

It's unsettling to imagine a homeless kid on the streets, so many just pretend the problem doesn't exist.

Those at the Ohio State University STAR House don't have that luxury.

The Campus drop-in center serves hundreds of adolescents who live without basic amenities like food and shelter.

"The [homeless kids] are there, and I don't think a lot of people are aware of it," said Sandy Sawyer, an OSU graduate student who works as a house monitor. "A lot of people at OSU don't even know we're here."

In bringing the issue to light, those at the STAR House hope to raise enough money to keep their door open.

A research grant that provided the bulk of the organization's operating expenses expired June 30, Sawyer explained. The house is staffed by OSU students and faculty but is not supported financially by the university.

Right now, the house has enough funds to operate through December, she said.

Program coordinator Jeana Patterson listed some of the many reasons why adolescents become homeless.

Some run away to escape abuse, while others are banished because of behavioral problems or sexual preference. Some grow too old for foster care. Generational poverty and mental illness often play a role.

Adolescents ages 14 to 24 can find help at the STAR House, which was opened as a research project in 2006 and stands for Serving and Treating Adolescent Runaways.

Open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., it offers free meals, shower and laundry facilities, internet access, a phone, places to nap and a wealth of occupational resources. Staff members often help visitors create resumes, study for tests or prepare for job interviews.

Jameel Shahid, a 23-year-old originally from the East Side, was living in shelters before finding a place to stay with his aunt. He still comes to the house to read and study for his GED.

"They really helped me," he said. "They make you feel like you're home. That's the reason I keep coming back. It's a positive place."