On November 6th, Stockton hosted its first annual Sleep Out to raise funds for Covenant House. Covenant house is a nonprofit organization that provides care and services for homeless, abandoned, and abused youth who have no other place to go. Last month, I visited Covenant House for a class project and saw what an amazing place it was. When I heard about the sleep out I was more than willing to join. Sleep outs are hosted all over the US annually. They raise money to help combat homelessness and they help to show its participants what it is like to homeless by sleeping outside on a cold night.
Before attending the event, I heard horror stories of participants huddled together in their sleeping bags on a freezing, rainy night. Luckily for us, it was beautiful out all night. Most of the night, people were wearing jeans and t-shirts. I kind of felt like I was cheating because most nights aren’t this beautiful and people have to combat freezing cold weather. For the first half of the night, we played games and did other cheerful activities to get to know each other better. I almost forgot what we were doing it for. Around midnight, we went inside and there was a presentation. We were shown videos about people our own age who were struggling with homelessness and the positive impact Covenant House made in their lives. After the video, people I knew started getting up and sharing their own personal struggle with homelessness. After that, we went back outside and it was time to sleep. Most of us ended up pulling all-nighters because even though it was beautiful out it was much less comfortable then we were used to.
Before then, I always looked at homelessness as a faraway concept that affects people that I would never know. Now I know how prevalent homelessness is in my own community. The Sleep Out helped to open my eyes and now I am much more aware of a very important issue. About 20-30 people participated and we raised almost $1,000. I am excited to participate next year even though it might not be as beautiful out.