Clarendon Hills residents join Sleep Out Saturday
Jack Crews and Caleb Lagestee, both from Clarendon Hills, hold up a cardboard box like the ones they'll be spending the night in for their church youth group. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:30AM
OAK BROOK — Alex Graef expects to get only a small taste Nov. 3 of what it’s like to be homeless.
The 14-year-old Clarendon Hills resident is one of about 50 middle-school members of Christ Church of Oak Brook planning to spend a night sleeping outside to help raise awareness and money for homeless people.
It’s all part of the ninth annual Sleep Out Saturday, an event started by Bridge Communities to raise money to help homeless families in DuPage County and raise awareness.
Participants will spend the night outside in tents, boxes, cars and sleeping bags in parking lots, parks and back yards to raise awareness about family homelessness and raise money for Bridge Communities’ Transitional Housing Program.
“I feel bad for all the people who really go through this,” Alex said. “We’re so fortunate and take a lot for granted.”
Alex doesn’t expect sleeping outside for a night to be pleasant if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
“I’ll be in a cardboard box and have a sleeping bag, but even if it’s cold it’s not even close to what homeless people go through,” he said.
About 2,000 DuPage County residents are expected to sleep outside for the Nov. 3 ninth annual event.
Alex’s brother, Michael, 11, has been camping before, but expects participating in Sleep Out Saturday to be different.
“It’s a great opportunity to feel what hobos feel like,” he said. “They don’t have such a great life. It’s hard doing this even for one night, but that’s nothing compared to what some people have to do.”
Pete Stearns, the middle school ministry coordinator for Christ Church of Oak Brook, said this is an important experience for the youth.
“The problems of the world aren’t necessarily far away; they’re right here,” he said.
Sleep Out Saturday will kick off at 7 p.m. at 505 Crescent Boulevard, Glen Ellyn, with an outdoor rally. The free rally is open to the public and will feature music, video, and live testimonials from Bridge Communities clients.
For more information on Sleep Out Saturday, to participate, or to sponsor a “sleeper,” call (630) 545-0610 or visit www.SleepOutSaturday.org.