WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Saturday night, Wyatt Sheeder and his husband traded out the comfort of their bed for some cardboard and blankets on the floor of their garage.
“I thought, oh, it’s gonna be cold. Well, they don’t have a choice, whether it’s cold or not,” he said.
The couple was just one of the hundreds in Wichita choosing to step away from their beds for one night and go outside for SleepOut ICT to stand in solidarity with their homeless neighbors.
“We’re sacrificing, you know, some comfort. I think that’s an important part of the process of walking through it. Again, realizing that people don’t have that choice,” Sheeder said.
HumanKind Ministries hosts the annual fundraiser to bring awareness of the challenges the homeless community faces.
“We are lucky enough to have the means to not worry about basic human needs like a warm bed or where our next meal is gonna come from,” said Alexis Phillips, committee member for Sleep Out ICT.
The event helping start conversations for even the youngest Kansans.
“This kind of facilitates in an age-appropriate way, ways to talk to them about homelessness,” Phillips said.
The event bringing a new perspective for Wichitans after a year that showed the fragility of life.
“We can’t take things for granted. I had a job change happen during COVID. My husband was not able to have a salon up and open for part of the time,” Sheeder said. “Luckily, we have a really good support system of people and we have, you know, decent finances, but some people are just one inconvenience away from homelessness.”
Currently, there are roughly 600 homeless people in Wichita. SleepOut ICT is one night a year but homelessness is seen every day.
“It’s during the summer months when it’s hot. They have to keep, you know, the lights on in the shelters during the cold months. It costs $20 a night to house one person in a men’s shelter,” Phillips said.
HumanKind Ministries volunteers reminding you that you can help make a difference year-round.
“We can give our time and treasure, whenever we want to. You know and it’s really pushing the community to remember that it’s not just from the holidays, it’s every day,” Phillips said.
Sheeder said the experience is teaching him three things: checking your privilege, leading with empathy, and choosing kindness.
If you did not get to participate this year, you can still donate by clicking here.