CHAMPAIGN, ILL. (WAND) - The annual One Winter Night is in full swing. CU at Home and several other organizations put on this event to raise awareness and educate others on homelessness.

"There are people that don't have a place to stay. They don't have shelter. They don't have meals. They don't have people to look after them," said Breelyn Fay, charity enthusiast.

You know the saying, 'walk a mile in someone else's shoes'. That is exactly what One Winter Night is all about. Donations were collected from 8 a.m. till the end of the night. All donations remain local and help keep shelters running.

"When you hear "One Winter Night', you usually think of the people who stay all night in boxes. The box dwellers, the outside participants. But this year we're really trying to make it even more educational," said Ruth Moore, CU at Home board member and member of First United Methodist Church.

Participants set up outside for the night, despite the extremely cold temperatures. Educational programming was offered with guest speakers to share their stores.

"We put ourselves in the shoes of our homeless friends and experience what they experience. And how tough it is to just sit on the hard concrete you know and experience the elements and what they go through. It's a very humbling experience," said Fay.

After recently switching from a high-barrier shelter to a mid-barrier shelter, CU at Home continues to raise awareness of the programs they offer and the importance behind keeping them running.

"CU at Home is now in a different space. We're in that mid barrier so we're taking people that are ready for that next step," said Moore.

"That's what these programs are really about is educating people and helping them to help themselves," said Fay.

You can donate to your local shelter all year round. Reach out and see what items they're in need of.

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