Illinois event to simulate homelessness, raise awareness

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — Residents of a central Illinois city can glimpse what it's like for those whose only shelter is their car while raising money for a group that supports homeless people.

The third annual Night In A Car homelessness simulation will be held in February at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bloomington, The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reported.

The program, organized by Trinity Lutheran and Home Sweet Home Ministries — which provides services for the homeless— aims to highlight the difficulties faced by homeless people who sleep in their cars by having participants do the same for one night.

Up to 250 people are homeless on any given night in Bloomington-Normal, and some of those live in their cars, said Mary Ann Pullin, CEO of Home Sweet Home.

Program participants are each given a scenario regarding how a former Home Sweet Home shelter resident became homeless. Participants are instructed to reflect on the situation and determine what a person would need to do to overcome homelessness.

The event includes access to hot beverages, snacks and bathroom breaks inside the church throughout the night.

Participants are also asked to raise $1,000 per car. Last year's event raised more than $47,000 for Home Sweet Home.

"We are thrilled this year to see more businesses participating," said Ashley Souk, Home Sweet Home donor relations coordinator. "As momentum continues to build, we look forward to getting even more individuals, including community leaders, and organizations signed up over the next few weeks."

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