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'Wheeling SleepOut' set for Friday to raise awareness of youth homelessness

A big event in Wheeling takes place Friday night, and hundreds of people will be camping out to raise awareness for youth homelessness.

A big event in Wheeling takes place Friday night, and hundreds of people will be camping out to raise awareness for youth homelessness.

Those with the Youth Services System are getting ready for the 8th annual Wheeling SleepOut. Organizers say they are anticipating this year to be the biggest one ever.

November is Runaway Prevention Month, and the Wheeling SleepOut aims to raise awareness and money for one important cause.

"This event is to, like I said, raise awareness to the issue of runaway homeless youth while raising money for our transitional living program, which serves young people between the ages of 18 and 21 who have no other funding source for them,” said Special Events Coordinator Sondra Jackson.

Participants must go online, join a team and then ask people to donate to the group. Those who ultimately raise the most money will be named the winners at Friday’s event.

After that, the teams are left to build shelter out of cardboard, which they’ll sleep in through the night.

"We ask people to be creative, build cardboard structures that they sleep in overnight on the field, and there are strict rules, so that gets competitive as well,” Jackson said.

As this event grows each year, so does the goal for donations.

Jackson said they have already exceeded this year's expectation to raise $50,000.

The sleepout takes place on the Miracle League Field in Wheeling, and anyone who wants to make a difference is welcome.

"My favorite part in the creativity that people put into their structures and the community environment that’s there,” Jackson said. “People get along so well. People learn more about the issues, homeless youth issues.”

The event will wrap up on Saturday at 9 a.m.

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