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CEOs Sleep Outside to Raise Awareness About Homelessness

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DURHAM, N.C. -

More than 35 of the Triangle's business leaders and CEOs slept in front of the Durham Performing Arts Center on a cardboard box to raise awareness about homelessness.

The United Way held its second annual "CEO Sleepout" in Durham.

It was chilly for a September night, and with only a cardboard box for shelter, it was a stark reminder of what about 2,000 homeless people in the Triangle deal with alone every night. The United Way says 40 homeless people die per year in our area.

Depending on how much money each business leader raised, they got some extra comforts. A donation of $500 provided a blanket and a week of safe shelter for a family in need. A donation of $1,000 provided a sleeping bag and helped teens in the foster care program. The United Way says through this effort of making "invisible issues visible" they raised about $35,000.

Some business leaders told WNCN it was tough to be exposed to the elements, especially the noises. A train went through around 2:00 am, and sirens woke people up as police responded to their nightly calls. A police officer stood watch as the business leaders slept--a protection most homeless people don't get.

"I think we're very encouraged by the fact we can actually end homelessness by being smarter about what we do and getting people into housing faster," said Kevin Trapani, CEO of the Redwoods group.

"It was different not having the comforts that we usually have in our lives. To be exposed to the elements, and be exposed to wind and noise and trains. The whole idea was to make invisible issues very visible," said Farad Ali, a board member of the United Way and member of the N.C. Institute of Minority Development.

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