A group of local residents are planning Fairmont’s Big Sleep Out, a winter night spent outdoors to draw attention to the need for emergency crisis housing in the area. From 5 p.m. This Saturday Dec. 7 until 9 a.m. Sunday Dec. 8, a contingent of hardy souls will camp out without tents at Citizens Park next to Fairmont City Hall to raise funds and coordinate efforts for temporary emergency shelter. The local event will coincide with the World’s Big Sleep Out, a first-time international fundraising challenge to raise money and awareness for the issue of homelessness. International sponsors include UNICEF, the Malala Fund, the Institute of Global Homelessness and Social Bite.

Jason Subbert ,who is general manager of TPI’s four hotels in Fairmont, was one of 23 local residents who recently attended the Blandin Community Leadership Conference when the lack of emergency housing arose in one of the discussion groups. He said “ Our need is for emergency crisis housing for kids and adults. That’s really at the forefront for Martin County and Fairmont.”

“Everybody is welcome. There’s a place for everybody at this event,” Subbert said. “We’ll have a couple of burn barrels. We’ll have the lobby open at Fairmont City Hall so the restrooms will be open or if people just want to go in and warm up for a while.”

Participants are allowed a sleeping bag, and a tarp or waterproof covering or an appliance box also are permitted, but no tents.

“No matter what the weather is, we are doing it. ,” Subbert said.

There is no cost to participate so people can host their own event in their backyard if they wish to.

TPI has agreed to match up to $1,000 of funds raised by the campers at Citizens Park. All funds raised will be used to combat homelessness with half the proceeds donated to the international effort and half remaining local, specifically with the Fairmont Salvation Army. Any personal donations to the Salvation Army can be earmarked for local crisis housing.

Subbert encouraged people to stop by and visit the campers the night of the sleep out.If they want to drop off some hot chocolate or cookies, that’s okay, too.

More information on the event is available on the Facebook page, Fairmont’s Big Sleep Out.

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