IU Kokomo will team with the Salvation Army Coordinated Assistance Ministries (CAM) to raise awareness of homeless issues Friday, Nov. 19, when the campus hosts Kokomo’s third "Grate American Sleep Out."
Up to 50 participants from campus and the public can assume "homeless" identities and sleep on campus that night. Community agencies that serve the homeless will staff information tables in the Kelley Student Center.
Everyone can contribute to the "Grate Race," in which five teams will compete to raise the most pledges for "a mile of nickels," approximately $3,696. Sleep-over participants will cheer on particular teams. Results of the race will determine which of those participants "wins" sleeping quarters inside or outside, in boxes or on mattresses.
Funds raised will benefit CAM’s work with the local homeless.
Started in 1987 in Washington, D.C., the Grate American Sleep Out has been observed in many communities and on numerous college campuses, including IU Bloomington and Ball State and Butler universities. The IU Kokomo American Democracy Project (ADP) is sponsoring the event as a way to "educate our students about social issues in the United States," said ADP co-chair Aimee Sadler.
Sadler is coordinator of programming and applied learning for the Office of Student Activities. Working with CAM is part of the campus’ continuing efforts "to make connections with the community," she said. Led by Phi Sigma Sigma sorority and the IU Kokomo Student Senate, various student organizations are promoting involvement in the Sleep Out.
Those wishing to register for the fundraising efforts or to sleep out should contact the Rev. Ruth Lawson, CAM director, at 765-434-0687. IU Kokomo students must register through Sadler at 764-455-9491.
Two previous Sleep Outs have been held at CAM headquarters in downtown Kokomo. Bringing the event to the campus setting is appropriate, Lawson said. "The university is training leaders of the future to go out in their communities. It’s good for the students at IU Kokomo to have a real hands-on understanding of what it’s like to be homeless and how this affects our society as a whole." Panera Bread will provide a breakfast Saturday, Nov. 20, during which participants will reflect on their experiences. ADP has encouraged undergraduates to become civically involved through its "Building Character, Building Communities" series this semester at IU Kokomo.