Gimme Shelter goes into its 4th year of trying to end homelessness in Central Illinois

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — An interactive event giving the public a chance to walk in the shoes of another is going into its 4th year.

Gimme Shelter – A Night to End Homelessness is an event hosted by Phoenix Community Development Services aimed at raising awareness of the challenges faced by those without homes.

Kristen Berchtold, director of development at PCDS, said it’s really hard for those in the community to truly comprehend the struggles of being homeless if they don’t experience it themselves.

“Gimme Shelter is all about giving our community members the opportunity to live just a little bit of what it might be like to be homeless,” Berchtold said.

She said so far, as of Friday afternoon, 88 people had signed up to participate in the event which consists of them raising money for the “privilege” of sleeping in cardboard boxes outside of the Civic Center from 6 p.m. in the evening Friday until 6 a.m. Saturday.

“I think most of us take so many things for granted like a warm meal, a place to wash your clothes, a hot bath, a quiet place to do your homework,” Berchtold said.

So she said she hopes this event will shine a light on the homeless issue in Central Illinois and she wants those involved to get a sense of understanding from those who they might normally pass on the street.

Berchtold also said they’ve raised close to $60,000 which will go toward their efforts to provide permanent supportive housing for the homeless. She said the event does accept walk-ins and will also provide education

“It’s not just people sleeping in boxes the whole time,” Berchtold said. “We do a series, a couple of hours of just educational sessions on homelessness so folks can learn a little bit more about the issue.”

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