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Local

St. Charles youths to sleep outside for homeless awareness

ST. CHARLES – On a night that has a forecasted low temperature around the freezing mark, about 30 junior high and high school students from a downtown St. Charles church will sleep outside in cardboard shelters in an attempt to learn what it’s like to be homeless.

The youths from Baker Memorial United Methodist Church are among an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 teens and young adults participating in the 12th annual Sleep Out Saturday, an event sponsored by Bridge Communities to raise awareness and money to help homeless families.

“This event really draws attention to the invisible homeless,” said Chad Pedigo, special event manager for Bridge Communities. “Bridge Communities has helped over 750 families become self-sufficient and no longer be homeless in their lifetime. The reason we are able to do that is because of events like these where the community comes out to support us.”

Bridge Communities is a Glen Ellyn-based transitional housing and mentorship program for DuPage County homeless families.

Mark A. Lewis, a parent of two teens participating from Baker Memorial, said Aldi has donated cardboard boxes for the event. Teens are expected to set up their shelter around 4 p.m. Saturday along East Main Street before traveling to an outdoor rally in downtown Glen Ellyn, he said.

Afterward, he said, the teens will return to St. Charles, where they have plans to visit Lazarus House.

This is the fifth year Baker youths are participating in Sleep Out Saturday, according to the church. Lewis said the teens hope to raise more than last year, which topped $1,000.

Since the first Sleep Out Saturday in 2004, more than 11,000 people have participated to help homeless families, raising more than $1 million. Every $35 raised provides one night of housing for a homeless family.

• Shaw Media reporter Eric Schelkopf contributed to this report.

On the Web

Visit www.bridgecommunities.org/BakerMemorialChurch to support the Sleep Out Saturday efforts by Baker Memorial youth.

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