Members of Phi Beta Sigma stood at the Scramble Light for 24 hours from Monday at 8am through the night to Tuesday morning, collecting donations and raising awareness for the homeless. Alaina Jaye Halsey // DN File
Sigma Sleep Out raises donations for Muncie Mission
Not everyone will have the privilege of a warm meal this Thanksgiving.
In an annual effort to raise awareness and donations for the homeless, members of Phi Beta Sigma stood at the Scramble Light for 24 hours — from Monday at 8 a.m. through the night to Tuesday morning — collecting donations.
They chatted and laughed, with music playing through the background, as passers-by filled the tables with donations of canned goods, clothing, toiletries and monetary donations.
The members were in high spirits, even as temperatures dropped to a low of 28 degrees throughout the night.
"These two chairs will turn into beds," said Chris Clifton, a senior history major and organizer of this year's event. "Some people sleep in cars, as well, and we rotate shifts, so there's probably going to be at least two people out to watch at a time."
Clifton had been taking donations at the scramble light since 7:30 a.m. Nov. 21, and planned to continue until the end of the event at 8 a.m. Nov. 22.
"Mostly people have been saying good job and stuff, honking their horns and things," Clifton said. "A lot of times people will come up, asking how long we're going to be out here, then they'll end up coming back and donating. It's always been a lot of words of encouragement."
Ball State's chapter isn't the only group who is raising awareness. For 31 years, the Sleep out for the Homeless has been a major event for chapters of Phi Beta Sigma across the country.
It is estimated that more than 5,000 people are homeless in Indiana, with the national rate being 17.7 homeless people per 10,000 people in 2015, according to Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
These people must endure the freezing temperatures not just for one night, but for all the bitter winter nights to come.
"Especially as cold as it's been getting this past weekend, the Muncie Mission, and homeless shelters in general, have an increase in the number of people that come during these times," Clifton said. "So food does stretch low."
Muncie Missions, a faith-based shelter for the homeless and those in need, will be receiving the donations.
"We do this event strategically around Thanksgiving, as it's not only a time for giving, but it's also a time most people spend with their families and loved ones," Clifton said. "It's important to realize that not everybody has that privilege and that opportunity, so it's being able to give somebody even just a warn meal when they might not have one otherwise."