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Fraternity collects donations and camp out for the homeless

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A national fraternity is sleeping out for the homeless and getting donations from the community to give to shelters.

Nationally, the event has taken place for years, but in South Bend, this is the second time the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity has done it.

The fraternity is not only getting donations like coats and socks but also raising awareness of the homeless problem in South Bend.

Car after car, donations were pouring in Saturday.

“It’s the little things that matter,” Marla Godette said. She was just one person who took the time out to donate, helping fill a bus with everything from coats to socks to scarves and even non-perishable foods.

“The more we do as a community that we’re able to take care of our own and the homeless population of South Bend is our own population so we have to do whatever’s necessary,” Godette said.

This is the second year Phi Beta Sigma fraternity has held “Sleep out for the homeless.” But this year, they really felt the cold winter breeze.

“I’m definitely learning not to take things for granted. Something as simple as a coat or a hat or no matter how thin gloves may be, every layer helps,” Charles Coleman Jr., a Phi Beta Sigma fraternity member said.

He said this just reminds us how important these donations are and last year proved that the community thinks so too.

“We asked for just socks,” Coleman Jr. said. “But we didn’t want to turn down anything, people just started giving things and we were just like we’ll take it. Will you take money? Of course, we’ll take that too.”

So this year they have bigger and better goals.

“Our goal was $2,000. We started low and we went way over that which made us go to $3,000 this year because we made close to $3,000 last year,” he said.

They plan on giving the proceeds to shelters in the area.

According to a city report from 2017, there are 125 chronically homeless people in the city, but that number is hard to pinpoint exactly. The fraternity says there are roughly 500 or even more homeless people and that the number is still increasing.

With the St. Joseph County's main library closed for renovation, there is now a lack of resources for the homeless to stay warm during the day.

And with the ongoing battle to build a new supportive housing building, the problem persists.

“When the homeless center is full and the winter amnesty building, when they’re full we’re trying to make sure we can do our part to help,” Coleman Jr. said. “We know it’s a problem that we can’t solve but to raise awareness. And when more people, when more heads come together, I think we’ll be closer to solving that problem.”

“Maybe they can see, ok, we need to do more because our community is doing more,” Godette said.

They will be out in the cold until Sunday at 3 p.m., 48 hours since they started on Friday.

You still have time to go to 812 E Jefferson Blvd and donate what you can.

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