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Cold temperatures don’t deter sleep out

ALBANY, Ga. — It promised to be bitter cold as people assembled to “sleep out” for the homeless Friday night.

The event at the field adjacent to the Albany Mall facing Dillard’s was the fourth held by Mission:Change and its partners to raise awareness and money to help the less fortunate.

The idea: to spend at least one night sleeping, as many homeless do, in cardboard boxes or tents. Jon Miller, a Mission:Change board member, said there was more to it than raising tolerance for the destitute.

“I don’t know that ‘tolerance’ is the word I want to use. It sounds like, ‘OK, I’ll put up with you’,” Miller said. “I think there is more. We should have compassion for our fellow human beings, no matter how they got to where they are.”

Miller added that whether they became homeless through losing a job, the current economic situation in the country or through an addiction, the homeless are still people and worthy of respect.

Teaching that respect and compassion brought youth church groups and parents to sleep out, listen to music and hear speakers on the issues facing the homeless.

About 15 parents and children from Porterfield United Methodist Church smiled through the chilly night air as they assembled their sleeping boxes.

“We’d like for our kids to learn about the less fortunate in our community,” said Wallace Bonner, an Albany attorney. “It will help them show some compassion, we hope.”

Coming from Newton, Crystal Collins and her First Pentacostal Church of God youth group pitched in to arrange sleeping boxes and tents for about 20 in the group.

“I saw the inspirational video about this on Facebook,” Collins said. “I showed the video to our pastor, and here we are to help out.”