Tennessee Sigmas Sleep-Out increases awareness of homelessness
The Kappa Chi Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. hosted the 2nd Annual Sleep-Out for the Homeless Thursday at the Humanities Amphitheater from dusk until dawn in an attempt to raise awareness about the cause, effect and misconceptions of homelessness.
The purpose of the sleep-out was to promote unity and explore ways that the fraternity chapter, along with the UT community, can work together and help serve the less fortunate. Participants learned to sacrifice, for one night, everyday luxuries that are many times taken for granted, said Antoine Johnson, Phi Beta Sigma vice president.
Johnson was the cook for the night, serving free food such as hot dogs and hamburgers. Games and activities were also offered throughout the night.
“This is a great time for students, faculty and anyone who would love to celebrate the homeless to come out, donate money, clothes or their time to a greater cause,” Johnson said.
Johnson and other fraternity members were unconcerned about a forecast for rain.
“Even though there was a bigger turnout last year when it was dry, we will be out here until 7 a.m. just like we said, rain or not, because this is what homeless people go through every day,” Johnson said. “Rain is not going to hurt us.”
The event was established to help the Christian non-profit organization Knox Area Rescue Ministries carry out outreach, rescue and recovery of homelessness in the greater Knoxville area. This year’s goal was to raise $1,500 in donations, including monetary gifts, clothing items, canned goods and other non-perishable food items, blankets, and travel-size toiletries and hygiene products.
Stephanie Thomas, sophomore in sociology, tried to adopt a new perspective as she participated in the sleep-out.
“I came out here tonight to support the Sigmas, get some free food, but of course, more importantly, to think about the homeless”, Thomas said. “You never really know how it is to be homeless until you put yourself in someone else’s shoes. I don’t think anybody thinks, in five or 10 years, I’m going to be homeless. You know, nobody thinks that’s going to be me.”