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Milwaukee Supervisor Sleeping Outside for Homeless Awareness

Milwaukee Supervisor Peggy A. West will spend Saturday night outside in Clarke Square Park, together with several homeless advocates and volunteers from the community, to bring attention to the challenges of homelessness in Milwaukee County, according to a release from her office.

The annual event, dubbed "Sleep Out Saturday," brings together shelter professionals, advocates, the faith community, youth, law enforcement, elected officials, concerned citizens and the homeless share in the experience of homelessness.

Organizers of the event see it as an opportunity to become a better advocates and to draw attention to the serious issue of homelessness in our community.

Sleep Out Saturday includes several components, starting at 4:00 PM Saturday with a clothing and personal hygiene products drive.

Organizers are asking for donations of new - not used - underwear, socks, personal hygiene products, large size diapers, and feminine hygiene products. New or used blankets, coats, mittens, hats and scarves are also requested. Items can be dropped off at Clarke Square Park any time from 4:00 PM Saturday through 9:00 AM Sunday. Items can also be dropped off before 4:00 PM at Hope House, 209 W. Orchard Street.

Organizers and advocates will be distributing the above listed items to homeless individuals Saturday night and overnight into Sunday morning.

New to this year's Sleep Out Saturday is a planned community meal, to take place from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM on Saturday night in Clarke Square Park at the pavilion. Organizers note that there is currently only one meal program operating in Milwaukee County on Saturday nights despite a significant need for additional free meal programs.

Advocates and volunteers will be canvassing the neighborhood to invite individuals who are homeless to attend the meal, and are asking community members to donate chili or soup, bread and butter, fresh fruit, baked goods, fruit juice, and bottled water to the Clarke Square Park pavilion. Donations can be dropped off at Clarke Square Park pavilion beginning at 2:30 PM the day of the event.

A third component of the event, also new this year are two workshops, from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM.

The first workshop, "How do we end homelessness? What’s the plan?" will include discussion on 10-year plan goals and strategies for ending homelessness. The second workshop, "Five ways YOU can help right now" will include specific ways to take action and a discussion on how the homelessness advocacy system accomplishes its goals.

Organizers expect to be busy all night with sorting donations, assisting our homeless guests with resources, opportunities for networking among advocates and volunteers. Neighbors are invited to attend and pitch a tent, sleep under the stars or in one's car to experience homelessness firsthand.

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