Oakland U. students sleep outdoors to help nonprofit

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Oakland University students plan to spend a night outdoors this weekend in a bid to highlight the plight of the area’s homeless and raise money for a nonprofit.

Students in the school’s Wellness, Health Promotion and Injury Prevention academic program are promoting “Fight the Night,” which is scheduled to run from 7 p.m. Saturday through 7 a.m. Sunday. Coinciding with National Homeless Awareness Month, the event aims to raise thousands of dollars though Crowdrise to support Baldwin Center in Pontiac.

The nonprofit, launched in 1981 as an outreach program of the Baldwin Avenue United Methodist Church, offers support programs including a family soup kitchen serving more than 65,000 meals each year and breakfast for homeless Monday through Friday, according to its website.

To reflect what homeless people across Oakland County face each night during the cold weather months, participants are asked not to bring camping equipment or other household conveniences, coordinators said. Cardboard is available to create makeshift shelters and Baldwin Center volunteers are serving a boxed lunch.

“The students are aware of the rise in veteran homelessness,” said OU Professor Charlie Rinehart, whose class is coordinating the event with the WHP Student Society. “It’s our hope that this initiative won’t conclude on Nov. 14, but used as a way to promote awareness that people who are homeless aren’t homeless because of anything they did to deserve it.”

Elizabeth Longley, executive director of the Baldwin Center, added: “We’re pleased and impressed with the passion that the Oakland University students have invested in this project. This is an example how service learning will not only benefit awareness and services for the homeless, but it’s likely to make a permanent impression on those who participate in the event and their future role in society. We hope that it will be an annual event at the university.”

mhicks@detroitnews.com

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