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Learn from the Sleep Out Saturday Masters

October 10, 2012
Matthew Hirsch talks about his Sleep Out Saturday experience

Matthew Hirsch talks about his Sleep Out Saturday experience

Matthew Hirsh participated in Sleep Out Saturday for the Homeless each of his four years in high school.  Here’s Matthew’s perspective:

It’s really empowering and eye-opening to get through the night outside because I realized that people are living through this in my own community every single day.  So it was just really insightful.  I learned a lot.  It made me feel more understanding and compassionate, [and] more willing to help their situation.

Each year we change it up a little.  We do a new activity; we have a new speaker come in.  And each time it broadens my knowledge of what I think homelessness is.

I realize that the problem could be much deeper than this; all it could take is one unlucky month, and anyone could end up homeless.  And it really helps me understand their situation and realize that this could be me, this could be anyone, this could be my neighbor in a month.  You just never know.  Homelessness could really sneak up on anyone.

For fundraising, it was easier for me to use the online because I have a lot of family and friends that live a little bit farther away, so it would have been difficult for me to use a traditional strategy of asking them individually.  And since I really wanted to get my family who lives in Florida or Pittsburgh and all over the country involved, I decided that I would use this online option. 

It was really easy and convenient to set up my own web page to raise money.  Bridge Communities gave me this template, and then I could personalize it for myself, add a message, and post my goal on the side.  All I had to do was send out the link and then people could click on it, follow it, and they would be right there at the web page that I had created.

Peter Stearns shares a youth pastor's perspective on Sleep Out Saturday

Peter Stearns shares a youth pastor’s perspective on Sleep Out Saturday

Youth Pastor Peter Stearns shares a leader’s perspective on Sleep Out Saturday:

Christ Church has been involved in Sleep Out Saturday for the past three years.  We wanted to get involved to have an opportunity for students to engage in ministry locally.  Our students are really good at recognizing that missions work is done around the world but are a little bit blind to what’s happening in our own neighborhoods, so SOS was a great opportunity for them to explore that.

It’s been really cool to engage with our students on a level that shows them that the homeless are not necessarily a culture so much as a group of people who have fallen on hard times.  It’s been really cool to see our students respond to this.

Fundraising is one of the most difficult situations for youth leaders because students in today’s culture are being asked to fundraise for all sorts of things.  This year I’ve challenged my students to not think of it as a numerical value that they’re trying to raise but rather as a time commitment to fundraising.  So I’ve challenged our kids this year to spend two full hours fundraising.  That could be two hours mowing lawns.  It could be two hours going door to door asking people.  It could be two hours of writing emails and letters to friends and family.  We even had a couple of students this year spend a day at school selling small lollipops for 25 cents apiece, and I think that was able to convince them that fundraising was not this big daunting task; it was something that they could do, and they could put a creative spin on it and do it themselves. 

As a youth leader, I think it’s an event that is able to make a huge impact without necessarily as much of the time and effort that goes into a lot of the other events I know we all do.  You’re able to get kids excited about it.  It’s an event that sells itself.  The camping element gets kids excited, gets them involved, and not only is it a fun event where the kids get to do games and they get to watch videos that teach them about things, and then they get to sleep out with their friends, but it’s also an event that has a purpose and really challenges them and allows our students to become a part of this local missions. 

This is definitely a life changing event for students.

Sleep Out Saturday 2012 for homeless families in DuPage CountyWhat difference will you make through Sleep Out Saturday this year?  IMAGINE the possibilities! 

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