Church Youth Seek To Help Northeast Ohio Homeless At 9th Annual Sleep-out

While most of us enjoy the comfort of warm beds on frigid Northeast Ohio winter nights, the region’s homeless often seek nighttime warmth from steam vents on the streets and pray they don’t freeze to death before morning. 

More than 20 members of the Lakewood Congregational Church (LCC) Youth Fellowship will experience being without warm shelter on a cold winter night firsthand when they sleep in cardboard boxes in front of the church on Saturday, January 19. The church’s 9th Annual Homeless Awareness Sleep Out calls attention to the daily struggles of Northeast Ohio’s homeless community and raises funds for local homeless support agencies. 

Youth, ages 11 to 18 (grades 6-12), will gather at the church, 1375 West Clifton, on the corner of West Clifton Boulevard and Detroit Avenue, at 3 p.m. to construct their box shelters – their lodging for the night.

Around 6 p.m., they’ll head outside and spend the evening seeking for donations from passersby and being without the comforts they are used to – heat, solid shelter, food, money…and electronics. The group will be roused from their box shelters by 6 a.m. on Sunday to resume their efforts until noon.

“For 18 hours, our youth will experience what it feels like not to have warm shelter or a comforting meal on a cold winter night,” says LCC's Rev. Mark Thomas. “It’s a true reality check.”

Efforts support HandsOn Northeast Ohio and its 2013 Homeless Stand Down and Family Promise, an organization that aids and empowers homeless families to become more self-sufficient. Besides cash or check donations (made payable to Lakewood Congregational Church), the youth also are collecting toiletries, towels, washcloths, blankets, underwear and socks. 

St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 18001 Detroit Ave., across the street from LCC, also is participating in this ministry with their own sleep-out on their church grounds that same evening.

To make cash or in-kind donations prior to the event, contact the LCC office at 216.221.9555. Visit the church website at to find out more about LCC and the United Church of Christ.

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Volume 9, Issue 1, Posted 9:24 PM, 01.08.2013