Sleep out to Understand the Plight of the Homeless

November 19, 2010 Updated Nov 19, 2010 at 12:48 AM EDT

By Lou Chilelli

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November 19, 2010 Updated Nov 19, 2010 at 12:48 AM EDT

It's a cold night here in Western New York...and a one group is experiencing Mother Nature's chill up close. A group of college students are spending some time....being homeless.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) -- About 30 Buffalo State College students are living for one night as homeless people. It's part of the third annual poverty week on campus. Those who have a warm home....get to live the experience of those without.

Jena Heimerl is a project coordinator from NYPIRG. She is assigned to the college, "We are having a sleep out for the students to join in soildarity and raise awarness of what's going on throughout New York State and especially western New York and the Buffalo area. The number of people who are homeless..the number of people who are going hungry and really the reason why these things happen in our community."

Sara Garfinkle is part of the student government's community affairs committee. She says, "It's to get students aware that it can happen to anyone of us. Poverty is right under noses and it's important that we are aware of that. Because, in this economic times, so many people are unemployed. It's just important that as college students we are aware of what's going on."

What kind of student would spend a night outside in the middle of the semester.

"There are a lot of sociology majors...social work students and this helps them to really experience some of the things in the community that they are going to be dealing with in the future. They get a good idea of what's going on and it's a great experience that they enjoy doing time and time again." NIPERG representitive Jena Heimerl explains.

Some of these students see homeless people on a regular basis. Arkeida Wilson is a student from New York City, "When I see them, I feel bad. Most of the time I like help them. When they ask you for change, I give them or suggest them to a shelter nearby. But, a lot of times they don't want to go to shelters because, not all of them we can really help give them what they need."

The group also encouraged students to bring food donations for the Food Bank Of Western New York. Organizers hope to get students involved in helping local agencies that help the homeless and the underfed. The sleep out will not last throughout the entire night. It will break up around 2am. Some of these kids have class Friday.