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One Night Without a Home raises awareness of homelessness

For one night, community members braved the cold, and experienced homelessness.

Posted: Nov. 13, 2017 11:41 AM
Updated: Nov. 13, 2017 11:41 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- For one night only, boxes were home to some Fort Wayne residents. 

When asked how he was feeling a few hours in, Hunter Searles response? "Cold." 

With their boxes, blankets, and the support of family, they made the most of the night. 

"Got some boxes from work, and cobbled it together to just try to create a little bit of shelter, I guess. [I'm] about as ready as I'm going to be," said Andy Binkley, another participant. 

When things got hard, they reminded themselves that some of Fort Wayne's homeless don't even have a box. 

"Some people just have blankets. Some people just have the clothes on their back, and they sleep under bridges. They sleep anywhere they can find, by the library. I mean, these people literally have nothing. [But] these people are some of the happiest, and nicest people I've ever met, and they have nothing," Searles said. 

Gregory Mitchell knows first-hand what it's like to be homeless. 

"There's been times where I had a home and a stable situation, but that would fall through, and there's times where I have slept outside. I've slept under bridges, and like construction areas in the giant sewer pipes," Mitchell said. 

Mitchell said places like The Rescue Mission are changing lives. 

"Thank God for the mission because they don't turn anyone away, especially in whether like this," Mitchell said. 

He said the One Night Without a Home project is eye-opening.

"I feel like Fort Wayne tries to disregard the homeless, they try to punish us for being homeless... People don't realize that everyone in this economy is one paycheck away from becoming homeless," Mitchell said. 

The next morning, people were exchanging stories of moving to their cars to escape the cold, but they told me the experience was only a fraction of what homeless people really go through. 

"By doing this, I hope it makes people aware that they're not faceless, they're not invisible. They're somebody's mother, daughter, father," said Carol Ann Poindexter, another participant. 

Mark Searles said after participating in the event in the past, many people have asked if it changed him. 

"My answer, in circumstances like this, it doesn't change you, it's a constant changing, renewing concept," Searles said. 

The Rescue Mission is still raising money through this week. If you want to make a donation, visit their website here

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