Some University of Lynchburg students are sleeping outdoors this week to raise money for local organizations that serve the homeless.
The “Solidarity Sleepers” program is part of the College’s Hunger and Homelessness Week observances. Students used to sleep outside only one night, but they extended the Solidarity Sleepers to six nights several years ago. Their purpose: understand some of the challenges homeless people face and raise money to help meet those challenges. “We’re doing this to raise awareness and solidarity,” said April Love ’16, a Bonner Leaders program intern organizing the event.
Students who sleep out recruit sponsors who agree to pay a certain amount for each night they sleep outdoors. Each night during the week the participants check in with the students in charge, grab their sleeping bags (loaned by the LC Outdoor Leadership Program), and find a place to came out for the night. In the morning, they can stow their overnight gear in Snidow Chapel for safekeeping.
Students have endured some very cold weather in recent years. “You don’t realize how long the night is until you’re shivering and it’s sleeting on you,” said Daniel Gordy ’16, another intern, recalling an experience from a couple of years ago.
But it is worthwhile to help others and become more familiar with the challenges of homelessness. It also helps some feel more grateful. “Sleeping out like that made me understand how lucky I am,” said Evelyn Keeney-Ritchie ’16. “I have a chapel that I can drop my stuff off in. I can take a hot shower in the morning.”
About 19 students slept outdoors Sunday night, the first night of the Solidarity Sleepers this year. The activity will continue each night until Saturday morning, November 14.
Students who wish to participate should contact April Love, Daniel Gordy, Evelyn Keeney-Ritchie, or Christine Gibbons, director of the Office of Community Involvement.
Other Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week events include:
Monday, November 9
5:30 p.m., Burton Dining Hall East Room
Hunger Banquet and Documentary
Tuesday, November 10
7 p.m., West Room, Drysdale Student Center
Lecture by Andi Lea Miller, director of the Lynchburg Diversity Center the current president of PFLAG of Lynchburg. Miller is the author of several popular LGBTQ books and an online transmedia series focused on young adults.
Wednesday, November 11
Parks View Mission, 2420 Memorial Avenue in Lynchburg
Members of the LC community will serve a meal to people in need. Those who would like to help cover the cost of the meal or serve the meal should contact Christie Rapp or Anne Gibbons.