The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday June 1st

Pit Sleep-In Shows Homelessness Awareness

Braving plummeting temperatures and low initial turnout, members of a Campus Y committee kicked off Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week by spending the night in the Pit on Sunday.

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, a national initiative to promote education about homelessness runs through Friday. UNC's activities will be sponsored by the Hunger and Homelessness Outreach Project Committee of Campus Y.

"During the week we hope to educate people so that they understand that poverty, hunger and homelessness is prevalent even if they don't see it on a day-to-day basis," said HOPE Co-chairwoman Hildy Fong. "I wish this were important to everybody."

By participating in the Pit sleep-in, Fong said students can experience the essence of homelessness for a night. The pseudo-homeless students constructed makeshift structures to shield themselves from the elements. But the dwellings, made from cardboard egg boxes, did little more than attract curious passersby heading to and from the Undergraduate Library.

During the sleep-in, participants listened to a speaker from Project Home Start, a homelessness advocacy group, the music of singers Sarah Bolen and Mitch Eubanks and a poetry reading from the book "Songs of the Street," the poetry of the homeless. Organizers also planned to give away prizes to participants spending the night in the Pit.

Continuing Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, HOPE will hold a hunger banquet at 7 p.m. today in Carmichael Ballroom. Attendees will be given cards to determine the size of the portions of food they will receive, ranging from substandard U.S. to Third World servings.

The week will wrap up with a movie, "The Saint of Fort Washington" on Tuesday; a concert featuring Hip Hop Nation, Opeyo!, Kamikaze, and Tar Heel Voices on Wednesday; and a dinner discussion Thursday.

HOPE Co-chairwoman Love Hailey said there are many ways to help the homeless. "You don't necessarily need to give money to the homeless on Franklin Street," she said. "It's better to work through a monitored program such as the Interfaith Council who have a shelter on Rosemary Street."

HOPE organizers said they hope for greater turnout and participation at events later in the week. "Education and exposure are the main focus of the week," Fong said. "Perhaps there is no solution, but if people were aware of homelessness they would not let it happen."

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