THIS IS NOT A RUBBER CHICKEN GALA DINNER.
Sleep Out is an immersive experience that allows you to explore the causes of youth homelessness, connect with the kids at Covenant House and learn about how your fundraising is supporting tangible solutions. Most importantly, by taking up the challenge of spending one night on the streets with nothing but a sleeping bag and a piece of cardboard, you are demonstrating your commitment to making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.
We convert our gym into an event space and sleepers have the chance to engage with current and alumni Covenant House Toronto youth along with front-line staff. Dinner is prepared and served by the youth in our Cooking for Life program and features typical menu items that are served to our youth on a daily basis. There is ample opportunity to connect and make a genuine impression on our youth during dinner, and many past sleepers have found this to be a very impactful part of the evening.
Your attention will be focused on the youth when they muster the courage to get up and speak in front of the crowd – sharing their personal stories about how they came to us, what they've endured and where they are now. Their stories may be heartbreaking but many are also heartwarming. You'll hear first-hand how the dollars raised directly help our youth.
Causes, Challenges and Solutions to Youth Homelessness
After dinner sleepers are divided into groups for additional programming designed to enhance your understanding of the roots and challenges surrounding youth homelessness, the work we do and how to help be a part of the solution.
Awards Ceremony/Sleep Out Challenge
We regroup in the gym for an awards ceremony where we celebrate participants who have gone to extraordinary lengths to raise funds and cheer very loudly for our top fundraiser.
Get ready to brave the cold and hit the streets. At 10pm, sleepers gather their sleeping bags and a piece of cardboard and head out to our designated sleeping spot. It will be dark with few streetlights, quiet and yet, startling as the sounds of street life go on around you.
As sleepers settle in to their sleeping bags on the cold, hard ground, they know they will soon go home to familiar surroundings. That knowledge makes the night bearable, but at the same time reinforces all that homeless youth do not have. Each sleeper experiences a unique epiphany that lingers long after the event.
Media and Publicity
The event will be highly publicized through public relations activities and social media channels – it will raise awareness with the business community and the general public. Last year, the National Post and Metro featured a list of all participants.
Sleepers return year after year because participating in the event is an eye-opening experience that often deepens a commitment to our youth. It is also an opportunity to engage with other professionals in a meaningful way while being a part of a solution.