A local youth homeless shelter raised more than $70,000 Thursday night as a participant in a nationwide sleep-out to raise awareness.
Executives from throughout Atlanta and other members of the community signed up to spend the night outside in solidarity with nearly a million homeless young people and to raise money to support Covenant House of Georgia.
Covenant House of Georgia recently purchased a new facility in west Midtown to quadruple the number of homeless youth it can serve. Thursday night’s fundraising efforts were to help move the shelter from its current facility in Polar Rock.
Atlanta Journal Constitution Editor-in-Chief Kevin Riley, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Wright and Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne, a board member at Covenant House, were some of the participants in the event.
Thursday’s activities began with a vigil at Centennial Park, before moving over to the new facility on Johnson Road.
Participants broke off into groups with Covenant House staff members, as well as residents, to discuss the work the organization does. Residents shared their stories about the circumstances that led them to seek help from Covenant House.
Following round-table discussions, participants in the sleep out took on the Covenant House residents in a basketball game, with help from some members of the Atlanta Hawks staff.
More than 30 people then set off to set up their sleeping areas in the courtyard of the shelter, using cardboard boxes and sleeping bags.
“You feel like you’re roughing it, sleeping on cardboard in a sleeping bag until you realize that the young people you’ve just talked to at Covenant House slept out for countless nights without probably even the benefit of a sleeping bag and the most important difference is that I knew I could go home,” Winne said. “Until they got to Covenant House, they didn’t know where they would sleep from night to night, but you really felt the love of God moving over that courtyard where we slept.”
The event was held at 12 Covenant House locations throughout the U.S. and Canada and raised more than $2.4 million.