People sleep on the streets to raise homelessness awareness

A Lafayette organization is educating the community on homelessness by ditching the comfort of their own beds.
A Lafayette organization is educating the community on homelessness by ditching the comfort of their own beds.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Members of a Lafayette organization are educating the community on homelessness by ditching the comfort of their own beds and sleeping on the street.

“It’s pretty cold and only getting colder,” said participant Megan Hadinger. “So, I mean, we’ll see what 3 a.m. feels like.”

From 6 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday, PATH Street Outreach team is hosting Sleep a Night on Our Streets. The mission is to show participants the challenges of homelessness.

“To kind of be in their shoes, it will be a different experience,” said Hadinger. “[It’s] something most people don’t really get to do.”

Hadinger is majoring in human services at Purdue University and is an active member of PATH. She said there is room for improvement in Lafayette, and locals can do more to help.

“It’s easy to look at these people and just like, ‘Oh, they gave up. It’s easy to do. They’re not doing anything,'” she said. “But to live like this every night and every day, I mean, it takes strength that most people don’t really realize that it takes.”

This event kicks off National Hunger and Homelessness Week. PATH member Kurt Harker said the group is able to help connect those who are homeless to resources and services.

“Especially those who are chronically homeless – which means they have been out there for a long time,” Harker said.

The group is helping around 40 people in Lafayette who are unable to get housing or health care.

“For every one I know, there’s probably two or three, four more that I don’t know of,” said Harker.

At Lafayette’s First Christian Church, participants are invited to build their own shelters out of cardboard or bring tents. It may be cold, even freezing, but the homeless do not have the option to pack up and climb into bed.

“They’re gonna to be out there until, you know, January, February,” said Harker. “We have to come up with some solutions on what to do to help them.”

Hadinger hopes that by joining PATH and participating in event like this, more people will want to help out.

“They’re living in woods; they’re living in church court yards, you know,” said Hadinger. “It’s not just a problem in big cities, even though Lafayette is still kind of big. It still has people here.”

To donate to PATH Street Outreach, contact Wabash Valley Alliance.