By Lindsey Harren 
Loyalist College students in the social service program will be bundling up Friday night and experiencing what it’s like to live and sleep outside.
The students will be participating in an event called “Sleep Out! So Others Can Sleep In”  and staying outside all night at Market Square in Belleville. This event brings attention to homelessness issues in the community.
This event is organized by the Canadian Mental Health Association- Hastings and Prince Edward County Branch.
Mike Damaren is a retired military veteran and social service work student. He said he wants to raise awareness about homeless veterans and understand what his future clients face on the streets.
“I believe that if we can identify remotely what they are going through all be it for one night that we can at least have the empathy to deal with them and with their issues,” said Damaren.
Another student, Kevin Young, will be participating for the first time after hearing about it for years. He said that as a student he wants to see what it’s like to sleep out all night. He also sees this opportunity as a chance to network and talk about problems in the community.
“I think it is important to get awareness out there, that yes there are homeless in our community. That we really need something. That we really need to be able to get them off the streets,” he said.
Christine Durant, director of the Poverty Roundtable  Hastings and Prince Edward said that she likes this event because it allows people to really think about poverty by staying outside all night. She said that this event not only raises money, but also brings the community together to experience what other people are going through.
“CMHA does such a lovely job in bringing people together to rally each other and create a community of people who want to see good things happen to our community members,” said Durant.
Durant also said that having CMHA and transitional housings teams be apart of the roundtable is “vital.”
“We’re a group of people that really want to see action to reduce poverty and to reduce stress and to find better quality of life,” she said.
“Sleep Out! So Others Can Sleep In” starts Friday night at 7 p.m. and runs until Saturday morning.
QNet News will be at the event and a story will follow next week.