Sleepout seeks homelessness awareness

Eryn Phillips

Many University students probably spent their Thursday nights studying, watching the Tide play basketball or celebrating the end of the week, but some spent the night on the Quad in an effort to raise awareness for the homeless in Tuscaloosa.

The event was organized by the UA Community Service Center as part of its annual “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.” This year the event partnered with Tom’s Shoes to also raise awareness for people across the world who live without shoes.

The group watched the movie “The Soloist” and chalked the Quad with statistics with the intention of getting students’ attention.

Charlotte Brown, a sophomore majoring in marketing, said homelessness is a huge issue that is often overlooked by the University.

“There will be people in Tuscaloosa with no bed tonight,” Brown said. “Ultimately, we are trying to raise awareness on the issue, not pretend like we are homeless.”

Brown noted the Community Service Center has held five events this week and the sleep out is the last.

“The University is often an easy place for all of us to get lost in our own little worlds,” said Rob Maxwell, a junior majoring in economics. “There are bigger problems in the city of Tuscaloosa and ultimately the world.”

Maxwell said the sleep out really puts into perspective what its like to be out of one’s comfort zone and hopefully it will make people want to help others anyway they can.

Tom’s Shoes, a company that for every one pair of shoes sold donates one pair to children in Third World countries without them, also organized a 1-mile walk without shoes around the Quad.

“We want students to see what its like to go without shoes,” said Emily Easley, a senior majoring in marketing. “We need to really recognize what some people are going without everyday and realize how lucky we really are as students.”

Mary Alice, a junior majoring in fashion design, said she was very hopeful about the event.

“I’m so excited to walk in the cold,” Alice said. “I think it’ll be fun and people will really see how fortunate we are to have shoes.”

Brown said the group would stay on the Quad until 6 a.m. Friday unless temperatures reached below freezing, which could make conditions hazardous.