The men of UNC Charlotte’s Phi Beta Sigma didn’t let falling rain and temperatures stop them from supporting the homeless Jan. 15.
In their annual Sleep Out For The Homeless event, nine members of the fraternity gathered in the Lynch Hall breezeway to collect goods and demonstrate solidarity with homeless individuals living in Charlotte.
During the sleep out, which the Rho Gamma chapter has held for more than 20 years, members assembled in the breezeway from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. the next day.
According to Brian Thompson, fundraising and philanthropy chair for the fraternity, all members remained in the breezeway for the entire 12 hours, with no shifts or breaks.
“We just feel as though the homeless community doesn’t get the awareness it should,” said Thompson. “People tend to shy away from the homeless, like they’re a problem.”
“They say, ‘If you give them money, they’ll just use it for obscenities and stuff like that’, but that’s not really the case. They do need help to get back on their feet. It is their choice to do what they want with the things we give them, but we would just like to provide as much as we can to them and get them back on their feet,” said Thompson.
The men of Phi Beta Sigma chose to do the sleep out not only during the coldest month of the year, but also on one of the coldest days of the year to signify their dedication to the cause.
“That’s the range where it’s the hardest in the streets for the homeless because of the weather, and it’s at night, so it’s just a little more difficult,” Thompson said.
In addition to the Lynch Hall breezeway offering a constant flow of students going to and from their residences, the breezeway was chosen as the location of the sleep out because of the protection it offers from the weather.
Participants furthered their “homeless” experience by gathering boxes to sleep and rest on throughout the night.
“If we chose to do it somewhere else, we couldn’t necessarily stay out as long as 7 p.m.-7 a.m.,” Thompson said. “Since we’re down here, we can still get the homeless experience, but get some kind of weather protection.”
“We do have the boxes down here, so later on, probably around two or three is when we usually break them out. Around then is when it starts getting really cold,” said Thompson.
The men also made and displayed signs that read things like “1 Out Of 5 Homeless Children in NC lives within 8 miles of Uptown Charlotte” and “The poverty of being Unwanted, Unloved and Uncared for is the GREATEST poverty.”
During their night in the breezeway, members collected items such as canned goods and non-perishable foods, clothing and money.
Fraternity members urged passersby – most of which were students – to contribute in any way they could.
Thompson urged students to use their declining balance at the nearby campus Outtakes to purchase things like Ramen Noodles to donate. Ten Phi Beta Sigma alumni also joined in the sleep out, stopping by throughout the night to drop off donations.
In total, the fraternity collected more than 900 donations, all of which will be taken to the Urban Ministry Center.
If you missed Phi Beta Sigma’s Sleep Out For The Homeless event, but would like to donate, contact Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.