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‘Putting love into action’: SJC leaders experience homelessness in overnight challenge

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‘They go to sleep as challengers, but they wake up as champions to really spread the word and to know what it’s like not have the comfort of their bed.’

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — As you sleep in your tonight, St. Johns County leaders are giving up their beds to experience and understand what it’s like to be homeless.

With a cardboard box and sleeping bag, local leaders are spending the night out in the forest to bring awareness to a major issue in St. Johns County.

“This is something personal to me. As a 25+ year veteran in st. Johns county. We have dealt with homelessness our entire careers, so this is special to me,” said Rob Hardwick, St. Johns County Sheriff-elect.

Hardwick is one of almost a dozen people finding a spot outside to sleep Friday night.

Ready to face the rain or cold, Lisa Franklin, Founder of Alpha Omega Miracle home says it’s a daily reality for many in the community.

“Right here in St. Johns County, these young ladies are trying to raise children in a safe environment where they are not sleeping truly under the bridge, in a cardboard box,” Franklin.

Franklin’s group organized the first coast sleep-out challenge.

Participants also known as “challengers” have a goal of raising $100,000 for the non-profit that focuses on supporting women and their children who are transitioning out of poverty.

All the money raised will go toward a $10.7 million project to build 100 units of housing, a community care center, and a daycare on Collins Avenue.

“They go to sleep as challengers, but they wake up as champions, to really spread the word and to know what it’s like to be sleeping outside and not have the comfort of their bed,” Franklin said.

The challengers will be out raising money until 7 a.m. Saturday.

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