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Students to Sleep Out on Kaufman Mall Thursday Night to Draw Attention to Homelessness

Thursday's forecast is for overnight temperatures near 40 degrees. But it also calls for hope, help and understanding.

Old Dominion University's Center for Service and Civic Engagement, along with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, is hosting a "Sleep Out for the Homeless" on Thursday, Nov. 18. Students will build a shanty town out of cardboard boxes and attempt to sleep out on Kaufman Mall, to promote awareness of homelessness in Hampton Roads.

Starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, the hardy students will build their cardboard dwellings, where they will stay until 9 a.m. the next morning. They will also collect food, clothing and monetary donations for The Dwelling Place, http://thedwellingplaceva.org/.

"Homelessness is a big problem in Norfolk; however, it's one problem that many people try to ignore," said Joshua Davis, vice president of the Omicron Iota chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. "With this program, we remind everyone that there are people that need our help. It is only through the heart of the community that we can defeat the homeless problem in our backyard."

A short program will kick off Thursday's event, featuring guest speaker Jeffrey Banks, a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity from Washington, D.C., who has worked with homeless outreach since 2003. A licensed minister, Banks was a campus leader at Howard University, coordinating weekly, Monday-night caravans to feed the homeless in Washington, D.C. A soup kitchen is also being provided by Aramark to offer another real-life experience of what it's like to be homeless.

"This event is designed to give students a realistic look into what it would be like to be homeless - to eat only what was available at the soup kitchen that night, to not have a home to go to and be forced to find what you can to provide shelter so you can sleep," said Tami Park Farinholt, coordinator for community service at ODU's Center for Service and Civic Engagement.

"It is our hope that providing this experience will educate the students about the issue and empower them to act."

This article was posted on: November 16, 2010

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