Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reggie's Sleepout

Last Saturday I spent a chilly night under the stars at the Drake University Stadium as part of Reggie's Sleepout.  This annual event is a way to raise money and awareness for youth homelessness in central Iowa.  Around 1,500 people participate in this event, which generated over $150,000 for Youth & Shelter Services.  Reggie's Sleepout is named in honor of Reggie Kelsey, who died a few months after aging out of the foster care system.  He was active in homeless youth programs prior to his death.

The best part of this event is the timing.  Reggie's Sleepout is held in late-autumn, when overnight temperatures are near freezing.  If you're cold by 10:00 p.m., it's unlikely you'll warm up until the morning.  Participants sleep in cardboard boxes to, in some small way, simulate a night of homelessness.  Most groups keep it simple.  Some create impressive structures in an attempt to win prizes.  (Personally, I think the contest for best design distracts some groups from being in solidarity with homeless youth.)

I was pleased to see so many church groups involved in Reggie's Sleepout - including at least six local ELCA congregations.  It's a good event that keeps homelessness-related issues in the public consciousness as winter approaches.

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