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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Jacksonville Residents Sleep on Streets to Raise Awareness

No place to call home.  In the U.S. alone, more than 640,000 people are homeless on any given night.  Locally, folks shed light on the problem here at home.  To spread the message, they took to the streets, even slept there. A cardboard box is not much of a shelter, especially with the dropping with the dropping temperatures, but in Jacksonville, a handful of people called it their home for the night.

"A lot of people don't understand the concept of what people, who are homeless, go through to just try to find shelter," said Nichole Higgins.

Jacksonville residents took to the streets for the night on Saturday to experience firsthand, what it's like to be homeless.

"It felt like I was actually one of the homeless, that was, you know, pretty much out there, you know, not knowing where the next meal was going to come from or even where I'm going to stay next," said Higgins.

It was part if an event called Shelter from the Storm, designed to raise awareness to the problem nationwide, and here at home.

"They don't think there are too many homeless people in small towns," said Michael Smith, Sr, veteran and formerly homeless.  "They always think of the big cities, but there's homeless people everywhere."

For Smith, the fight against homelessness is all to real.

"I've been homeless and whatever you can find to sleep with, magazines, newspapers; this is just to bring attention to that there actually is a problem with homelessness in Illinois," said Smith.

Even though they were being homeless for the day, they still had some amenities that a lot of folks don't like blankets, tape, and even the boxes themselves.

"Some people have luxuries like this, to, you know, make a house to keep them rom being, you know, rained on or snowed on or keep them warm," said Higgins. As we move into the winter months, those without a home, will need your help more than ever.

"Socks, a pair of gloves, even lotion, sunscreen; the little things mean a lot when you're out here in the elements all day, every day," said Smith.

To end the evening, the participants ate "hobo soup," held a candlelight vigil, hosted marching bands and choirs, and had fellowship with those around them.  Everyone we spole with believes their message is being heard, as it echoes throughout Jacksonville.

New Directions Warming and Cooling Center is a shelter that offers a place to get a warm meal, to shower, to rest, and even get life skill classes.  It's located in Jacksonville and is open 24 hours-a-day for the winter season.

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