Fraternity organizes Sleep Out for Homeless

Aaron Mudd

A fraternity at WKU is looking to assist the homeless in Bowling Green in the form of clothing with an event called “Sleep Out for the Homeless.”

Jalen Rhodes, a Chicago sophomore, said that Sleep Out for the Homeless is a chance to give back to the community.

“We’re just now bringing it to this campus,” Rhodes said.

The event will take place Feb. 18 and 19 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Centennial Mall.

“Basically, we’ll just be collecting clothes, hats, gloves, shoes and canned goods,” Rhodes said. “And then at the end of the day we’ll take it all to the Salvation Army.”

Rhodes said the event will be a test run to see if the event is successful at WKU.

Rhodes, a member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, said that this is the first Sleep Out for the Homeless event hosted at WKU, but Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. hosts events like this on other campuses across the nation.

“That’s something that I’d like to implement here in Bowling Green,” he said.

The goal of the event is to take things that would normally be thrown away by students and put them to good use, Rhodes said. 

“A lot of people on this campus just have clothes and things they don’t need and don’t really know where to take it,” he said. “So instead of just throwing it out we can just give it somebody who can use it instead.” 

Heather Gordon, director of social services at the Bowling Green Salvation Army, said that homelessness is an issue that people don’t often recognize, especially in Bowling Green.

“Just last year in 2013 we served 1,247 homeless individuals,” Gordon said. “That’s a 16 percent increase from 2012.” 

Gordon said that people struggle to find jobs that aren’t just temporary and pay enough money to support a family. 

“When you work a minimum wage job and you have a family — and the average rent in this county is $650 for a three bedroom unit — you don’t make enough to support living here,” she said. 

The Bowling Green Salvation Army offers 30 days of emergency shelter to those in need, and if the temperature drops below 32 degrees individuals can spend the night even if they have already used their time, Gordon said. 

“On any given night we probably have 50 to 65 people in the shelter,” Gordon said. “So supplies like personal hygiene items, towels, sheets, pillows, blankets, those types of things, are really hard to keep up with when you’re giving out that many items on any particular night.”

Students who are interested in donating can bring any kind of clothing that they don’t need.  

Rhodes said that it’s important to recognize homelessness as an important issue.

“It is something that is going on,” Rhodes said. “It is there and we should recognize it’s there.”