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Sleepless In the Friendly City

Twelve volunteers slept in their vehicles last night for United Way Oxford's first ever Sleepless In Our City event.

WOODSTOCK - It was just a taste of what so many people around the world experience every night if they don't have a warm place to stay.

Twelve volunteers slept in their vehicles last night as part of United Way Oxford's Sleepless In Our City event. Their vehicles were parked in the United Way parking lot and they first got there at around 9:00 p.m. They were informed about several rules and safety measures in place before the event got underway. They all went to bed shortly after 10:00 p.m.

Meghan Porter slept in the back of her vehicle last night after folding the seats down. She did not have an air mattress with her so she had a tough time getting comfortable.

The volunteers were not able to start their vehicles overnight due to safety concerns. Porter did bring a sleeping bag with her to keep warm, but it could only do so much.

"My fingers, my face and my neck were very cold and it wasn't even that cold of a night last night. That physical discomfort and that coldness are the things that struck me the most when I think about my experience."

Porter thinks she might have had a total of three or four hours of sleep last night, but she woke up several times throughout the night. She also went straight to work at Boston Pizza this morning in order to make her experience as realistic as possible.

"If this was the situation we were truly in, we wouldn't have a home to go to have a hot shower. We each have some toiletries in our car and you have to figure out if you're going to change in your car, if you have a bottle of water to brush your teeth or whether that's something you're going to do when you get to your workplace depending on your circumstances."

This was the very first Sleepless In Our City event for United Way Oxford. Executive Director Kelly Gilson explains why they decided to do this.

"The intent of this event is to just give people a little tiny bit of an experience. In no way would we be so disrespectful to say that our experience, as challenging as it might have been last night, is that the same for the people who are living on the streets and really struggling to survive. This is just meant to be a bit of an exposure to raise awareness, to have dialogue, to allow people share their experience and help us raise funds so we can help improve the experience for those who are actually living on the streets."

The 12 volunteers managed to raise close to $10,000 for United Way Oxford in the end.

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