Fri. Jan 28th, 2022

From 6 p.m. on Nov. 15 to 6 a.m. on Nov. 16, WCU held the third annual Sleepout to End Hunger and Homelessness in the residential quad. The Sleepout, first established in 2011, is an event to raise awareness about homelessness and poverty and to collect donations from participants for local charities. The Sleepout was sponsored by Residence Life and Housing Services, and was planned and staffed by Residence Life and Housing staff, particularly the staff of Allegheny Hall under the supervision of Allegheny’s Resident Director, Marcus Harrison.
The purpose of the Sleepout is for participants to gain insight into the plight of the homeless. Participants are encouraged to sleep outside on the ground or in tents to experience the cold and hardship for one night that the homeless and poverty-stricken face on a daily basis. Participants were encouraged to preregister, and teams that did so received a free t-shirt. The Sleepout staff also offered warm refreshments, including two different kinds of soup, coffee, and hot chocolate. Activities for participants included a showing of The Pursuit of Happyness and a high-energy music playlist that got many of the participants out of their tents and dancing.
Temperatures continued to drop over the course of the night, reaching a low of 36 degrees around 5 a.m. If anyone forgot why they were there, they surely remembered, trying not to shiver as they lay on the ground or in their tents.
“The Sleepout was pretty eye-opening for me,” said participant Elana Benitez. “I’ve participated for the past three years, but it’s easy to forget how cold and hopeless it is out there in the middle of the night. It definitely made me thankful for everything I have, to remember how blessed I am.”
Participants were encouraged to pledge to donate an item for each hour that they spent outside in the cold. Items that were especially encouraged included socks, hats, packs of t-shirts, scarves, sleeping bags, blankets, canned goods, toiletry kits, store gift cards, and monetary donations. All proceeds from the Sleepout are being divided among The Chester County Food Bank, Safe Harbor, and Decades to Doorways.
For students who missed the Sleepout but are still interested in participating, donations are still being collected at Killinger Hall until Dec. 6.
“It’s such a good cause,” Benitez said. “A handful of canned goods or a few dollars can be the difference in whether or not a person will be eating that day.”
Clare Haggerty is a third-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at CH757342@wcupa.edu.
 

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