News Local/State

One Winter Night: An Evening To Help & Learn About “Friends Without An Address”

Logo for the One Winter Night event.

Roughly 300 people will spend Friday night out on tthe street n cardboard boxes, to raise awareness and money to help the homeless during the annual "One Winter NIght" in downtown Champaign.

The event raises money for C-U At Home, an organization devoted to helping people who are homeless in Champaign-Urbana. Executive director Rob Dalhaus III invites anyone to come to downtown Champaign Friday evening, meet with the volunteers --- or box dwellers, as they’re called --- and learn more about helping the homeless, through talks being given from 6:30 to 10 PM at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, 346 N. Neil St..

The speakers include staff and volunteers with C-U at Home, local shelters for the homeless, Orphan's Treasure Box, the City of Champaign Township Supervisor's office (which provides emergency assistance), Champaign Police and professional staff involved with treating mental illness and substance abuse. And Dalhaus says some of the speakers were once homeless themselves.

“We’ve got a couple of individuals who have actually been in a homeless situation," said Dalhaus, "recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, sharing their story of how they were able to kind of work their way out of that situation.”

Dalhaus says there are just a few dozen people living continuously on the street in Champaign-Urbana. But he says nearly a thousand people may have no permanent address. 

“Folks that maybe don’t have steady income, and are couch surfing from one friend’s house to another, maybe burning a bridge along the way, so they don't have that steady housing," said Dalhaus."Or we’ve got some folks that maybe receive a Social Security or Disability check. So they’re in a hotel for the first couple weeks of the month. Then when the money runs out they’re back on the street for a couple weeks at the end of the month.”

Those participating as box dwellers in One Winter Night pledge to raise at least $1,000 for C-U At Home. The event's overall goal is $250,000. According to the C-U At Home website, 68% of that goal had been raised, as of Thursday evening.