Sleep Out Saturday is cold dose of reality for Hinsdale church members
Oak Brook , 10/28/12--Jay Cremer, Downers Grove, Matthew Rich, Elmhurst, and Joe Evely, Elmhurst, sit inside an cardboard box like the ones they'll be spending the night in for their church youth group. About 50 middle school students from Christ Church of Oak Brook will be sleeping outside to raise awareness and money for the homeless. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:41PM
HINSDALE —An estimated 2,000 DuPage residents are expected to spend Saturday night outside.
They are participating in the ninth annual Sleep Out Saturday, an event to raise money for and awareness of homelessness in DuPage County.
Morgan Bergstrom, 14, of Hinsdale United Methodist Church looks forward to her annual night spent inside a cardboard house on the lawn outside the church.
But the Hinsdale South freshman said Sleep Out Saturday also serves as a harsh reminder of what it would be like to have no other choice.
“You don’t realize how cold it is until you do it yourself,” she said.
Nancy Bergstrom, Morgan’s mom, will sleep nearby in a tent filled with blankets and coats to fend off the autumn chill.
“We have a lot more than a homeless person would have, and it’s still awful,” said Bergstrom, who this year will introduce her younger daughter, Rachel, 8, to Sleep Out Saturday.
Participants will raise money for Bridge Communities by collecting pledges. Last year’s Sleep Out event raised more than $130,000 for Bridge Communities’ Transitional Housing Program, which serves more than 100 families annually. One of those families was Corrine McLachlan’s.
“I was a Bridge client for a little over 18 months,” said McLachlan, a 28-year-old single mother.
Thanks to the Glen Ellyn-based organization’s help, McLachlan is back on her feet. She is employed full time at a Burr Ridge company and has a home of her own for herself and her children.
“Homelessness is not just the guy sitting on the corner in downtown Chicago. It was me and my kids,” she said. “It’s people in your community.”
About 30 middle school and high school students will sleep in tents on the lawn at Union Church of Hinsdale Nov. 3.
“The kids are asked to come with a tent to share and warm clothes,” said Jeremy Hylen, director of youth formation at Union Church.
“Besides the money that is raised (which is important), much of the work we do is in raising awareness about homelessness and its effect,” Hylen said. “It helps kids get outside the bubble of privilege.”
For more information on Sleep Out Saturday, to participate, or to sponsor a “sleeper,” call (630) 545-0610 or visit www.SleepOutSaturday.org.
Kimberly Fornek contributed to this article.