Volunteers brave cold in Blue Springs for homelessness - KCTV5

Volunteers brave cold in Blue Springs for homelessness

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A group of volunteers are choosing to sleep outside during freezing temperatures to raise awareness about the metro's homeless population. A group of volunteers are choosing to sleep outside during freezing temperatures to raise awareness about the metro's homeless population.
BLUE SPRINGS, MO (KCTV) -

A group of volunteers are choosing to sleep outside during freezing temperatures to raise awareness about the metro's homeless population.

They hope their makeshift homeless camp will draw attention and donations of blankets and warm clothing.

Members of the First Christian Church of Blue Springs are holding "Operation Chillout, Freezin for a Reason Blanket Drive" inside a homeless camp they built.

Every volunteer is asked to dress appropriately, bring warm bedding and build their own homeless shelter.

"We use pallets, old plywood, plastic tarps, cardboard anything that we can find," event coordinator Bryan Couch said.

Men and women of all ages are building a spot to sleep outside for an entire weekend to raise awareness.

"We saw a need a number of years ago. We had a request late in the winter for heavy winter clothing for some children, and there wasn't any to give," said Cliff Caton, a senior minister for First Christian Church.

The event started as a challenge. Church members had only collected 300 blankets. When the minister and a church member challenged each other to camp out to collect more, donations grew quickly.

"We collected more than 900 blankets that weekend," Couch said.

They decided to hold the event each year for the last eight years - no matter what the temperature is outside.

"We've collected hundreds of thousands. We have been very blessed with the number of blankets. One year we had a tractor-trailer load from a linen company that gave us hospital linens," Couch said.

During the blanket drive, volunteers only have the shelters and a large fire they built to keep them warm throughout the weekend. So far to date, the coldest it has been is 7 below zero.

"I have a tarp down, I've got a wood pallet, I've got a piece a plastic I found on top of that, then the blankets. It's not a comfortable way to live or sleep. It reminds us, I forget I'm about 60 feet from the door, but I have a door I could go to. These people don't," Caton said.

Last year donations were down. They're hoping this year they can collect a record number of blankets.

"We encourage people who bring the blankets to stop and come and visit with the folks, let the kids out of the car, have them come look at the shelter. When they see the way other people are living, they immediately get involved," Caton said.

He said staying outside in the weather offers them a harsh reality of homelessness and it's a great reminder of why they do this.

"A blanket might well make the difference on whether they make it through the night," Caton said.

They kicked off the event at 4:30 p.m. Friday. It runs through Sunday morning.

They are asking anyone who wants to drop off donations to do so at 701 NW 15th St. in Blue Springs.

Donated items will be sorted and then distributed to area agencies that assist the people in need of Kansas City.

For information please call First Christian Church of Blue Springs at 816-229-8400.

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