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YOUR SLEEP OUT (OR SLEEP IN)

We encourage everyone who is sleeping out to schedule it for Saturday, Nov. 13.

Youth participating in Sleep OutSleep outs will occur all over town on this one night, and yours will be part of the excitement of the larger community movement. If, however, you have schedule conflicts that night, pick any date from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, preferably a Friday or Saturday night to accommodate work and school schedules.

Due to the pandemic, we’re asking that individuals, families, friends and faith communities sleep out in the safety of their own social “bubble,” choosing an outdoor environment that is safe and secure, and following current state COVID-19 safety protocols. Wash hands, wear masks, maintain physical distancing of 6 feet or more, avoid sharing objects and stay home if you are sick. Consult the Minnesota Department of Health for updated guidelines.

Read the FAQs below for tips on how to hold a Sleep Out or a Sleep In, or learn about the other ways you can raise funds to prevent homelessness in our community.

sleep out faqs

Click each question below to expand:

ABOUT SLEEPING OUT

How do I plan a Sleep Out?

  • Pick a location. A flat yard is a great option! If you are considering a park, please consult the Parks and Recreation Department in your city to let them know your plans. Plymouth (763-509-5201); Wayzata (952-404-5361); Long Lake (952-473-6961).
  • Invite people in your social “bubble” to join you. Answer any questions they might have.
  • Create a Sleep Out fundraiser (instructions here) to spread the word and ask people to support the Interfaith Outreach Sleep Out in honor of your efforts.
  • Borrow tents or ask area merchants for large boxes to accommodate sleepers.
  • Determine food/refreshments and decide who will bring what (or if any area merchant will donate the food).
  • If you plan to have a campfire, determine a safe site, wood supply, emergency water buckets, etc.
  • A few days before, inspect your site and remove any hazards or large rocks from where you want to locate your tents or boxes. Also identify the closest restroom facilities for campers to use during the night.
  • Plant a “You Belong” yard sign as a visual reminder to your neighbors.
  • Watch the Sleep Out Virtual Kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. Subscribe (and invite others to as well) to the Interfaith Outreach YouTube channel. Click on the “alarm bell” to be notified when our new video is posted!

What if it's cold or snowing?

Your site

  • If there is snow on the ground, pack it down before setting up your tent.
  • If the snow pack is several inches thick or the ground is too frozen, tent stakes may not work. Attach a 4’ to 6’ cord to each of your tent stake-out points, and tie them off to a rock, log or heavy household item (like a gallon milk bottle filled with water) to secure your tent. If you are set up in a “tent city,” share anchors.

Staying Warm

  • Place a tarp and a layer or two of cardboard directly on the ground before raising your tent. Place a layer of carpet padding (if available) on the bottom of your tent. Always use a pad under your sleeping bag in the winter. An ensulite pad (closed cell foam) or Thermarest camping mattress works better than a regular foam or air mattress. It’s not as soft but is much warmer! Many people suggest two pads. Insulating yourself from the ground is more important than insulating from cold air.
  • Do not sleep on a cot. It is much colder than sleeping on the ground.
  • Use a winter weight sleeping bag and don’t forget your pillow.
  • Wear a warm hat, preferably wool, all night. It will keep your feet warm too! Wear dry wool socks to bed but avoid the temptation to wear too many layers of clothing or a coat inside your sleeping bag. Your body heat will warm the sleeping bag for you. Cinching up your mummy bag so that only your eyes, nose and mouth are exposed is another way to hold in heat.
  • Don’t breathe into your sleeping bag at night. Breathe through a stocking cap or bandana instead. Moisture from your breath will introduce moisture in your sleeping bag and reduce its insulating ability.
  • Put a bottle of warm water in the foot of your sleeping bag. It will keep your feet warm during the night. Be sure it is sealed tight, doesn’t leak and is not wet on the outside. You can place it inside a large Ziploc bag if you are unsure of the integrity of the seal.
  • Vent your tent as much as possible at night to reduce condensation on the inside of the tent walls. The few degrees of warmth lost is preferable to having moisture collect inside the tent.
  • Shared body heat will help to keep people warm and cozy as you sleep out with family or those in your “bubble.”
  • Do some mild exercise before getting into your sleeping bag. Jog up and down the street or do some light calisthenics to increase circulation. It will help you to warm up and warm your sleeping bag quicker. DO NOT work up a sweat, as moisture is the enemy of warmth.
  • If you have an equipment failure, get wet or find that your equipment is not adequate, move back inside and complete the night inside, on the floor or a couch. This turns your Sleep Out experience into a just as important “Sleep In” experience (see next section). And, it is better to err on the side of caution than to suffer frostbite or exposure.
  • Dress in layers so you can easily adjust your clothes to regulate body moisture and temperature: a liner against your skin (long johns), insulation (fleece) and a waterproof and windproof outer shell.
  • Wool or synthetic materials are much better than cotton, which loses its insulating qualities when it gets wet. Cotton also takes a long time to dry out.
  • Wear boots with waterproof outer shells such as oiled leather or plastic.
  • Protect against heat loss through your head by wearing a wool cap, toboggan, balaclava, etc. Over half of your body heat can be lost through your head. A balaclava helps protect your face and neck from cold and wind. It can also be worn as a toboggan or scarf while sitting around your campfire.
  • Wear wool socks, but don’t wear too many pairs. If the blood flow to your feet becomes constricted, your feet will get cold regardless of how many socks you have on. Boot laces that are too tight will constrict the blood flow as well.
  • Make sure your gloves, especially liners, are not too tight so they don’t constrict the blood flow and keep your hands from warming up.
  • Other winter camping tips can be found online.

What do we do at the Sleep Out?

  • Download and print our Sparking Compassion guide for stories and conversation prompts to facilitate empathy-building discussions with your group.
  • Download and print our Budgeting through Poverty activity that explores the challenges many neighbors face in making the monthly math work.
  • Watch the Sleep Out Virtual Kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. Subscribe (and invite others to as well) to the Interfaith Outreach YouTube channel. Click on the “alarm bell” to be notified when our new video is posted!
  • If your group would like an Interfaith representative to stop by, email dlande@iocp.org to schedule.
  • Plan to grab a photo of your group near your boxes, tents or fire! Tip: snag a photo while it’s still light out or be sure to use a strong flash! (That night, post on social tagging Interfaith Outreach and using hashtags #SleepOut4Families and #InterfaithYouBelong.) Or, you can email photos to skamholz@iocp.org so we can share on social for you.

ABOUT SLEEPING IN

What's a Sleep In?

The sleep in experience is the indoor alternative to sleeping outside. It’s designed to bring families together to explore some of the ways that our neighbors experience homelessness and raise funds to support them.

This activity is perfect for families, friends and neighbors in your social “bubble.” Think of who you might turn to if you were experiencing homelessness and needed to double up — invite that person/family to join you. We encourage everyone who is sleeping out (or in) to schedule it for Saturday, Nov. 13. Sleep outs (and ins) will occur all over town on this one night, and yours will be part of the excitement of the larger community movement.

How do I plan a Sleep In?

  • Set a date.
  • Once you’ve decided to sleep in, let us know by contacting Deb Lande at dlande@iocp.org or 763-489-7515. Or, you can email photos to skamholz@iocp.org so we can share on social for you.
  • Consider creating an online fundraiser. Share your intention to raise funds and awareness on social media, and inspire others to do the same!
  • If you want to incorporate an “at home” service project as part of your sleep in, read instructions and purchase supplies ahead of time. Options include preparing spice packs or meal packs, or making fleece blankets for the individuals and families who visit Interfaith Outreach.
  • Determine sleeping arrangements: Who will sleep on the floor? On the couch? Is there room for everybody, or does someone need to sleep in their car for the night?
  • Consider turning the heat down to 58 degrees and use flashlights instead of lights during your Sleep In to help you not take your heat or lighting for granted. Reducing heat and electricity is one way people experiencing poverty try to lower their utility bills during the cold Minnesota winters.

What do we do at the Sleep In?

  • Download the Sparking Compassion guide for stories and conversation prompts to facilitate empathy-building discussions with your group.
  • Make a list of your day’s top 10 concerns. As you read the stories in the guide (link above), think about what the adults’ top 10 concerns might be.
  • Download the Budgeting through Poverty activity that explores the challenges many neighbors face in making the monthly math work.
  • The following morning, reflect on the experience and how it may have differed from your typical routine. Go online together to make a one-time gift to the Sleep Out or a monthly/recurring gift to support local families experiencing poverty.

ABOUT HOMELESSNESS

How does homelessness impact our community at large?

When our neighbors struggle with homelessness or housing insecurity, it impacts all of us.

  • Affordable and adequate housing is essential to positive health outcomes.
  • Affordable and adequate housing is key to family stability and essential to kids’ success in school.
  • Affordable and adequate housing is critical for local jobs and strong economies.

Too many families and individuals in our community are struggling with housing insecurity and poverty, or are experiencing the crisis of homelessness.

  • Poverty is increasing everywhere, and it’s growing fastest in the suburbs. Fourteen percent (14%) of people in our service area live in poverty, earning scarcely enough to cover housing and other basic needs. The poverty level for a family of four is an annual income of $26,500 or less. (Wilder Research)
  • Last year, 2,100 families turned to Interfaith Outreach for help. Two-hundred of those families were experiencing homelessness – and 45% of the individuals we helped are children. Almost half were staying temporarily with family and friends. Others were living in domestic abuse shelters, sleeping in motels, their cars, or outdoors.
  • Almost all the families were housing “cost-burdened,” meaning they spent 30% or more of their household income on housing.

The housing instability and economic uncertainty that our neighbors experience has only intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • While additional emergency sources of support—such as unemployment insurance and a federal eviction moratorium—have been made available, those resources are now ending. In September unemployment benefits ended for many. In October, landlords began evicting individuals and families. No one knows the long-term impact of this health and economic crisis on top of the already high levels of emotional stress that come with poverty and housing insecurity.
  • Communities of color and people living in poverty have been disproportionately impacted by increased economic hardship and the resulting food and housing insecurity. 24% of white households and 42% of households of color are housing cost-burdened.
  • In the midst of the pandemic, Minnesota is experiencing an ongoing affordable housing crisis, with rising rents (+14%) while incomes are flat or declining.

What can I do to prevent homelessness?

You’re doing something now – by participating in the Sleep Out!  The money raised helps Interfaith Outreach deliver individualized services in six critical impact areas: family support, food, housing and neighborhoods, education and youth, employment, and transportation. Each year, money raised by the Sleep Out helps nearly 2,000 local families (that’s more than 6,000 individuals) stabilize, strengthen and thrive.

fundraising ideas

Looking for other ways to celebrate and tap into the power of collective compassion this season? Here are a few ways you can help Interfaith Outreach raise awareness and $3 million to prevent homelessness and create opportunities for everyone in our community to stabilize, strengthen and thrive.

More resources

For more information on the Sleep Out and how you can experience its transformative power, view and/or download our Sparking Compassion guide and Budgeting Through Poverty activity.