The Sleepout for the Homeless is a 2 night sleep-out fundraiser to raise money to fight homelessness in Charlottesville. Participants sleep outside in tents and a temporary dwelling known as a Sukkah in the Amphitheater for 2 nights and receive sponsorships from their friends and families, 100% of which will go directly to a local homelessness organization.Over the past seven years, hundreds University of Virginia students have participated in the annual Sleepout for the Homeless and cumulatively raised over $25,000 to support various organizations that provide services for the homeless population of the Charlottesville area.

This year’s grant recipient is The Crossings. The Crossings, which provides studio apartments with support services, is a mixed-income community with a blend of units for homeless and low-income clients in the Charlottesville area. Thirty units are designated for homeless clients and thirty units are available to individuals earning 50% or less of the area median income. The Crossings opened in March 2012. Support services are available to help residents stabilize and improve their health, incomes, and housing. With support from the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, The Crossings is a regional solution to homelessness.

The Sleepout will occur during the Jewish festival of Sukkot, which commemorates the 40 years the Israelites spent traveling through the desert after the exodus from Egypt. During Sukkot, it is customary for Jews to eat, sleep, and entertain guests in a Sukkah, a temporary structure reminiscent of the huts in which the wandering Israelites dwelt. Given the themes of the holiday and its coincidence with the first chills of autumn, the Jewish community at the University of Virginia has taken Sukkot as an opportunity to turn our thoughts to those in our community for whom sleeping outside is not a cause for celebration. Today, the Sleepout for the Homeless is one of the hallmark service events in the University community, given that it’s widely known by its members and centrally located on the University Grounds.

Throughout the Sleepout, UVa students of all religions will be sleeping outside on UVa Grounds as part of an effort to spread awareness about homelessness and opportunities to help the homeless in our community. Sleepout participants will secure sponsorships from their friends, families, and local businesses to sleep out. It is this sponsorship money that funds the grant. The three day event will also include speakers, discussions, and awareness campaigns highlighting the causes and effects of homelessness, as well as emphasizing the need for students to take action.