By Maddie Lombardo
March 13, 2013
On March 22, the High Point community will take awareness to a new level when more than a hundred students and citizens spend the night in a parking lot. The event is a campout for homelessness, the ultimate goal being to draw attention to the seriousness of homelessness while simultaneously collecting donations and funds.
Open Door Ministries and West End Ministries, both local homeless shelters, have partnered up with the Civitan and Enactus clubs of High Point University to plan this all night event. Civitan is a community service club with a special focus in developmental disabilities, and Enactus is a social entrepreneurship club that participates in volunteer work. Those attending the camp-out will agree to spend one night sleeping outdoors by their own free will, acknowledging those who do not have the luxury of such a choice.
“We’re really just trying to get students and faculty members, as well as people from the community, to come sleep out for one night to promote the cause,” says Andrew Ricchini, president of Enactus at HPU. “We want to raise awareness and hopefully gather food, clothes, and other donations.”
The event will include diverse activities scheduled to run all night, held in the former JC Penney parking lot at Oak Hollow Mall on Eastchester Drive. While this gathering is said to be a campout, those in charge of planning do not expect that much sleeping to take place. There will be games, raffle drawings, a movie showing, performances by local bands, and several other planned activities to keep the fun going throughout the night.
The campout will provide a controlled environment to collect food and clothe donations, raise money and inform those involved about the issue of homelessness. According to Steve Key, the executive director for Open Door Ministries, 559 individuals came through their shelter last year.
“I think that it is important for our community to know that there are people who are homeless, and that it’s not ok,” says Steve Key. “It’s easy for us not to know. We’re all busy with work, school, and our own things. We don’t really come face-to-face with the reality that there are some people who don’t have a place to stay.”
High Point University has strongly advertised the event to attract both students and local residents. Staff from the homeless shelters and local sponsors will be making an appearance as well. Many High Point families may also attend with their children to partake in some of the games. “It is meant to be a friendly environment. Security has been arranged so that people can feel safe coming out to support a good cause,” says Sierra Adams, a student helping to plan the event.
With just a few weeks left until the big night, this event is only expected to grow. As more people join the cause and more of the community plans to attend, those involved are one step closer to reaching their goal. All of the participants believe that it has the potential to do something great. As Andrew Ricchini put it, “I don’t want to sound cliché, but all we really want is to help as many people as we possibly can. In the end, that’s definitely what is most important.”