Clergy Sleep on the Streets to Bring Attention to Homeless


It might be madness to unroll a sleeping bag by the side of the road and camp through the night in Minnesota's 10 degree chill right now, but misery apparently breeds millions.

The folks at Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners, a local charity network, put their priests and pastors out in the parking lot Wednesday night to get a taste of what their homeless constituents experience on a regular basis. Some scrunched in their cars, others bundled up in tents pitched in the snow. The payoff: $2 million to benefit struggling families in the western suburbs.

"The hardest thing is you get so exhausted, and you sleep for 10 minutes at a time but then you turn and a cold blast of air hits you in the back. You try to cover everything, but there's always something that's uncomfortable, whether it's your toes freezing or the wind in your neck," said participant Jill Kohler. People really don't want to be there, which is the whole point.

The Sleep Out campaign runs through the end of the year, and attracts volunteer groups from schools and corporations like Cargill and Loram to share in the discomfort. Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners has raised about $800,000 toward their goal so far, leaving just about a month of back to back frostbite nights to make more than $1 million.

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