WSSU students sleep out for homelessness awareness

WSSU  students sleep out for homelessness awareness
November 22
05:00 2017

Winston-Salem State University students continued  their tradition of spending the night outside in honor of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

The sleep-out, organized by the Delta Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.,  took place around the campus’ clock tower. By 8 p.m., more than 100 students had came out to show their support during the chilly fall night, with many deciding to sleep out in makeshift boxes and tents overnight. It’s the culmination of a week of activities on the historically black campus, including a quorum discussing different types of homelessness and a basketball tournament that raised more than 150 canned goods for Second Harvest Food Bank.

The campus sleep-out featured music, dancing and food in its first few hours before students settled in for the night. More food was collected for Second Harvest, along with clothing for Winston-Salem Rescue Mission and money for Samaritan Ministries’ Penny Campaign.

It’s the third time organizer Jelani Braziel has slept outside, spending the night with three other fraternity brothers sleeping in a large box made of taped-together pieces of cardboard. He said it gave students a small sample of what people who are homeless face every night.

“It’s really eye-opening,” he said. “My first year it was a real culture shock, sleeping on the ground in the elements. This is actually warmer than past sleep-outs, but being outside in the elements, knowing there are people living right now in these conditions, it’s a very humbling experience.”

Junior Class President Nadaja Womack has slept out twice. She couldn’t stay the night this year, but still came out to show her support  She’s known several people that have experienced homelessness, and said the event helps give others an idea of what that’s like.

“Knowing this is what they had to endure for a long period of time really brings it home and makes it real,” she said.

It was the first time sleeping out for Gabrielle Martin. She’s the Campus Activities Board (CAB) president and wanted to set a good example for her group. CAB board members were out there for two hours at a time, with a couple who took turns sleeping out for six hours. CAB members were encouraged to either spend 30 minutes outside or donate 10 canned goods, a blanket or a jacket.

Martin came prepared with snacks, games and blankets in her tent that she shared with others. She said it was hard to get back to sleep after she was woken up at 2 a.m. because of the cold temperature. She said the experience made her extremely grateful for everything she has.

“I have really not felt cold until last night,” said Martin on Saturday.

The Bethesda Center for the Homeless also held a sleep-out fundraiser Friday night at Bailey Park and a fundraising breakfast earlier in the week. During Bethesda’s kick off for the week, it announced a partnership with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to provide medical care at the shelter and a Kate B. Reynolds grant that will allow for expansion of services at the day center.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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