Friday Night Sleep Out to Raise Money for Homeless

If you’re on the hunt for Friday night plans with a purpose, consider sleeping outside to benefit those in Pittsburgh who have to spend every night on the streets.

photos courtesy of L.i.v.i.n.g. Ministry

The L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry is hosting a sleep out Friday night to raise money and awareness for the homeless people of Pittsburgh. Participants will spend the night in an abandoned building outside of the L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry house, 2536 Maple Ave., Perry North, using a box, tent or some other makeshift shelter.

Jeff Brown, director of community outreach for the L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry, says the organization holds sleep outs as a way to expose people to what it’s like to be homeless.

“While our daily work is connecting our folks on the streets and building relationships with the homeless population, another big part of our mission is connecting volunteers – and those who do not have daily connections or relationships with the homeless – with that experience,” Brown says.

At the event, which starts at 7 p.m. Friday and ends at noon on Saturday, sleepers will participate in games discussing homeless stereotypes and various service projects that allow them to interact directly with the homeless. Dinner and breakfast will also be provided.

At past sleep outs, speakers have shared their stories about how homelessness has affected (or is still affecting) their lives. This year, staff members will lead the discussions Friday night and the group will visit a camp Saturday morning to meet with those who are still living on the streets.

“When we do [service projects], our compassion increases,” Brown says. “Not that we will ever know what their situation is like unless we live it ourselves, [but]  things like this only get us closer to serving folks on the street better and loving our neighbor better in general regardless of who that person is.”

The ministry has been hosting sleep outs since 2012 and normally does about four each year. This is the first sleep out of 2017. The next public sleep out is scheduled for the first weekend of April. School groups, church groups and other organizations can also contact the ministry to schedule private sleep outs for just the members of their group.

Canned goods will be donated to the Northside Common Ministries’ food pantry. Monetary donations will support the L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry’s effort to end homelessness and poverty in the Pittsburgh area.

The ministry encourages everyone to participate in the full sleep out experience, but you may also attend the event to listen to the speakers and participate in the awareness activities and service projects without sleeping out.

“Anyone who wants to join us in serving Pittsburgh’s homeless population, whether that’s financially or to volunteer, we’re always looking for more support,” Brown says.

To become a “sleeper,” either solo or with a group, you will need to fill out the required forms, collect five non-perishable canned goods and raise at least $25. About 30 spots are still available, so let the L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry know you’re planning to attend by also filling out this form. If you’re under 18 years old, you must have adult supervision and also complete a parent/guardian agreement and consent form.

Categories: The 412