Naperville’s Sleep Out Saturday was held over the weekend at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church. Participants spent a chilly night outside in tents, boxes and other makeshift shelters to help raise awareness about homelessness.
Bridge Communities Hosts Sleep Out Saturday
“Sleep Out Saturday is an event organized by Bridge Communities here locally that helps to raise funds and awareness for individuals and families experiencing homelessness,” said Pastor Sarah Swindall of St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church. “All the money that is gathered goes toward providing resources and housing for local families. So we got to hear some of their stories last night at a rally that we attended organized by Bridge Communities.”
What Was The Most Impactful Moment From The Night?
High school students from St. Timothy’s and Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church were joined by four adult leaders during the overnight event. Metea Valley senior Brandon Loos said that hearing from people with firsthand experiences was eye-opening.
“Like the whole concept of Sleep Out Saturday is putting yourself in their shoes and realizing what it’s like to be homeless,” said Loos. “ I feel like the biggest and most influential part of it was actually being able to listen and talk to someone who had gone through it themself.”
St. Timothy’s And Our Saviour’s Combine Groups
Dave Mevis has been an adult mentor at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church for a few years now. He says this was the first Sleep Out Saturday that combined both churches.
“It’s cool when kids from different churches can come together and do things together,” said Mevis. “So keeping an open mind and coming up here and meeting a bunch of people kind of added another layer and dimension to it.”
An Unexcepted Visit Late At Night
The group saw the clocks turn back an hour during their sleep-out experience, but Loos says that it wasn’t the most challenging part.
“One of the scariest parts was at like 1:00 in the morning, there was a coyote that walked past in between all of our tents and woke some of us up because they were calling across to each other on the other side of the street,” said Loos. “So that was definitely entertaining, but scary especially because they’re right next to us.”
From now until December 3, suburban residents are participating in the 19th annual Sleep Out Saturday. If you missed out and want to participate in a future sleep out or donate, you can visit the Bridge Communities website.
“So one of the kids today during our debriefing sessions said, you know, we chose to do this,” said Pastor Sarah. “And there are people who this isn’t a choice for them. This is something that was forced upon them. And I think that really made an impact for them.”
Naperville News 17’s Joe Kennedy reports.
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