By Sophie Hoover / Murphy News Service
Over 100 Minneapolis business executives and employees will be sleeping outside for the night on Saturday, Sept. 26. to raise money and promote awareness for local homeless youth.
This is the second annual year that YouthLink, the local nonprofit for homeless youths, has hosted the Night of Hope: Executive Sleep Out event. The executives will be spending all night in sleeping bags on cardboard in front of the YouthLink building in downtown Minneapolis.
Some of the participants this year include Mayor Betsy Hodges, WCCO’s Reg Chapman, former Minnesota Viking Rickey Young and many more.
Last year, the organization raised about $150,000 and attracted more than 70 participants in the sleep out. This year, Night of Hope includes more than 100 participants and hopes to raise $250,000 for the youth homeless facility. That is the equivalent of feeding 200 youths every day for a year or buying 25,000 weeklong bus passes to help the older youths find jobs or go to school.
In reality, the donations will be spread out across many of the nonprofit’s services like housing, GED pretest fees, college application fees, food, showers, basic clothing, etc. The organization currently serves about 2,000 youth.
Kathleen Smith, the communication manager at YouthLink, said the idea for Night of Hope came about from the need to “create a more immersive experience” for the donors to see what it was really like sleeping outside for a night.
“Seeing higher-level people who are putting themselves in [the youths’] shoes is really powerful,” she said. “It’s also powerful for the youths to see people who really care about their situation.”
YouthLink also holds many other fundraisers and events throughout the year like a food truck battle in the summer and Give to the Max on Nov. 12, a citywide online day nonprofit fundraising.
Sophie Hoover is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.