Don’t be alarmed by the hordes of young panhandlers looking for handouts at the intersection of West Clifton Boulevard and Detroit Avenue, in front of Lakewood Congregational and St. Peter’s Episcopal churches, throughout the night on Saturday, Jan. 19. Instead, open your wallet and donate to a worthy cause.
Nearly 30 youth fellowship members at LCC, 1375 West Clifton Blvd., as well youth at St. Peter’s across the street at 18001 Detroit Ave., will get a taste of what it’s like to be homeless in the winter, while raising money for local homeless support agencies during the 9th Annual Homeless Awareness Sleep Out.
The kids will sleep in cardboard boxes in front of their respective church buildings in an effort to increase awareness of the struggles Northeast Ohio’s homeless community faces each day.
At LCC, participating youth, ranging in age from 11 years old to 18 years old (grades 6-12), will gather at the church, 1375 West Clifton, on the corner of West Clifton Boulevard and Detroit Avenue, starting at 3 p.m. on Jan. 19 to start constructing their box shelters – the only source of shelter they will have until late Sunday morning.
Around 6 p.m., the youth at both churches head outside to spend the evening canvassing the block, seeking for money from passersby and being without the comforts they are used to – heat, solid shelter, food and money.
At LCC, youth also are prohibited from using any sort of electronics during the evening’s event. The group will be roused from their box shelters by 6 a.m. on Sunday to resume seeking donations and will continue doing so until noon that day.
“For 18 hours, our mid-high and high school youth will experience what it feels like not to have warm shelter or a comforting meal on a cold winter night,” says LCC’s Rev. Mark Thomas. “It’s a true reality check, for both the kids and the community donating to the cause.”
Funds raised by the LCC Youth Fellowship will support HandsOn Northeast Ohio and the 2013 Homeless Stand Down, as well as Family Promise, an organization that aid & empowers homeless families to become more self-sufficient. LCC serves as one of Family Promise’s west-side host churches.
The LCC youth are collecting cash or check donations (made payable to Lakewood Congregational Church), as well as such toiletries as shampoo, soap, toothpaste and deodorant and towels, washcloths, blankets, underwear and socks.
For those who want to make cash or in-kind donations prior to the event or who would like more information, contact the LCC office at 216.221.9555
St. Peter's youth also will be raising funds for various local homeless support organizations. For more information on their fundraising efforts, call the St. Peter’s office at 216.226.1772.