College students sleep on streets to raise awareness for homeless

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By Ed Watkins – Senior Staff Writer

Dozens of students sacrificed a good night’s sleep as part of the “Sleep Out for the Homeless” campaign for the Open Door Mission.

The event, which took place on the night of Oct. 13, was organized as part of a coalition between UNO’s and Creighton’s Phi Beta Sigma fraternities as well as their sister sorority, Zeta Phi Beta.

Cameron Carter, president of UNO’s Phi Beta Sigma’s undergraduate chapter, has been involved with the fraternity since 2007 and participates in the campaign every year.

“It gets better and better every year,” Carter said. “Two years ago, it got real cold, like maybe about 10 degrees, so we moved it up a little bit this year.”

In addition to helping with the events that night, Carter collected various items and goods earlier that day.

“We encourage anybody to donate to Open Door Mission,” Carter said.

Despite the cool temperatures, spirits were high among the students in attendance, which easily numbered over 50. Some groups huddled under blankets to keep warm, while others danced to music playing from the speakers in their cars.

A sense of community is what drew in Ryan McClarcy, a junior at Peru State College.

“From day one, they showed me all kinds of ways to be a better person,” McClarcy said. “I wasn’t on the straight and narrow. I wasn’t into the books like I wanted to be. When Phi Beta Sigma came into my life, I wanted to be a part of it from day one. I wanted to better myself and better the individuals around me.”

Every year, Mona Lisa King-Ward of UNO’s Multicultural Affairs Office shows her support for the Phi Beta Sigma fundraiser for the homeless.

“I love doing it for the kids,” she said. “It’s community. It’s about being of service to the community, so I come out here and try and support them every year for everything they’ve done.”

For the past four years King-Ward has prepared a pot of chili to help the students on the cool October nights.

“The least I could do is be out here with them and give them something to keep them warm,” she said.

The campaign raised a total of 2,500 pounds of clothing and 191 pounds of food.

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