Sleepout for the Homeless 2015

united-way-homeless-small-76731Homelessness is a real issue in Gaston County.

Statistics show that many families in our community are just one step away from being on the streets with nowhere to go. One unexpected expense – a minor car repair, a child with an ear infection, a field trip – can be financially devastation to some families. Couple those expenses with job layoffs, or medical diagnoses like cancer, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Many of the calls we receive at the United Way office are for families with children that find themselves living in a car, or trying to find beds in a local homeless shelter. We believe that our community has the ability to pull together and lift those families out of that situation. We’re not talking about a hand out; we’re talking about a hand up.

What

Sleepout for the Homeless: United Way of Gaston County will host local business owners, community leaders, and volunteers on an overnight Sleepout for the Homeless event. Participants will stay overnight in the United Way parking lot from 6pm Saturday night (January 24th) to 6am on Sunday morning (January 25th). Participants can choose whether they want to stay all night, or have other representatives from their companies split the 12 hour period into time slots.

When

6:00pm Saturday, January 24th 2015 until 6:00am Sunday, January 25th 

Where

United Way’s Parking Lot
200 E. Franklin Blvd.
Gastonia, NC 28052

Why

To raise awareness about homelessness in Gaston County, and the conditions that the homeless in our county must face in the winter. The event will also be tied to a one-night online fundraising drive  to benefit organizations that work with the homeless in Gaston County, along with a food and personal care item drive throughout the month of January. 100% of any money donated for the Sleepout will go to purchase items that will be given directly to the Homeless during the Homeless Point in Time Count on January 28th.

The event will also be used to raise awareness about the Homeless Point in Time Count that will take place on Wednesday,  January 28th, 2015 starting at Sundown (we need volunteers!). The PIT Count is a snapshot of homelessness in our community. On that day, volunteers in a 3-county area will go out into the community and physically count the number of homeless people who are both unsheltered and sheltered (in a shelter, church, etc). This important event is critical for our community’s assessment of homelessness and programs for the homeless in Gaston County. Last year, the PIT Count identified 114 unsheltered homeless individuals on a cold, snowy day in Janary. They identified more than 400 who were considered homeless and either sheltered or unsheltered in a 3-county area. More information the PIT Count and items needed for that event HERE.

If you would like participate in this year’s event Sleepout for the Homeless Event or for the Homeless Point in Time Count event, please fill out the form below and you will be contacted on how to participate further. contact Ashley Smith  at 704-864-4554 ext 104. Or by email at asmith@unitedwaygaston.org.

What You Will Be Doing:

1) Participants will gather at United Way for a brief explanation of the timeline of events starting at 6:00pm. Some food/snacks will be provided for participants at that time.

2) At 6:30pm, participants will move into the United Way Parking Lot to begin the sleepout. We will provide some heat sources, but they will be limited. We encourage any participants to dress as warmly as possible, and bring any sort of camping or outside sleeping materials you can. If you don’t have sleeping bags, bring very warm blankets and gloves. We want everyone to be safe during the event.

3) Participants will be given a cardboard box that they can either sleep on or use to created a makeshift shelter. If participants bring some sort of camping chair, there will also be opportunity for them to warm their hands by a fire as participants discuss the plight of the homeless in our community and what can be done to create real and lasting change for those in need.

4) Restroom facilities will be available for participants.

5) Participants are not required to stay the entire night. We sincerely appreciate any sort of support or participation.

6) Do not bring valuables to the event other than ID. United Way will provide limited space to be able to store items.

7) Please bring a smartphone (fully charged) if you have one. We want participants to be able to post and tweet in real-time about their experience. It’s important that your network knows how the experience affects you.

8) If you want to donate to the Homeless PIT Count through United Way, please bring your donation with you (whether it’s money or in-kind items like blankets).

9) Bring a Positive Attitude! You are being part of the change in our county by putting yourself in the shoes of those in need.

Sleeping outside overnight in the United Way Parking lot.We will have limited supplies for people to sleep overnight. We highly encourage people to dress warm, bring their own Sleeping Bags or Camping blankets, and be prepared for very cold weather. The point of this experience is to see what it is like for the homeless in our county on some of the coldest days of the year, so it’s not for the faint of heart. If you have any questions, contact Ashley at the information above, or fill out the information form below and you will be contacted.

Sleepout for the Homeless

Name, Position (ex. Pastor, Vice President, Community Volunteer, etc)