LAKEWOOD, Ohio — A group of students in Lakewood will be braving the elements and spending the night outside to raise awareness of Cleveland's homeless problems.
Youth from Lakewood Congregational Church participating in their Homeless Awareness Sleep-Out will be constructing box shelters to sleep in outside of the church, which is their only source of shelter from Saturday night until Sunday morning.
The students are between the ages of 11 and 18.
The event is designed to call attention to the plight and struggle of Northeast Ohio’s homeless community and raises funds for several area homeless support agencies, including Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Y-Haven and Family Promise of Greater Cleveland. Over the past 16 years, the event has raised more than $53,000.
"I want to truly have the full experience," Helen Fraunfelder told News 5. "People don’t just get to go home and go into the warmth. They have to stay there and sleep and that’s their lives."
Chairman Brad Humphreys says the event has made an impact on the city's youth.
"There is an awakening to them of what they just did, how hard it was and uncomfortable. They’re sore frankly at that point they just want to collect some more money and go home and then we sit down and talk to them and say okay hit the reset button. What if you had to do this again and again and again and again?" he explained. "We'll never fully solve poverty. You can’t eradicate it, but what we can do is help as many people, especially at the local level here."
Saturday's forecast is expected to start with some rain, that will eventually turn to snow.
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