To raise awareness and combat homelessness, the fourth annual Bexley Sleep Out event will be held at Jeffrey Park, 165 N. Parkview Ave.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, April 6, and end at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 7.

Since becoming an official Bexley High School club activity in the 2015-16 school year, the Sleep Out has raised more than $15,000 for central Ohio charities, said high school student Annie Politi, who organizee the event along with history teacher Anna Schottenstein.

"Our mission is to promote awareness and also to fight homelessness in central Ohio, and hopefully have a bigger ripple effect as far as we can reach," Politi said during a presentation at Bexley City Council's March 27 meeting at city hall.

"We've expanded our efforts, not only through our campout, where we raise money and increase awareness about what it's like to spend a night outside in the cold. We've also started a book drive and candy sales, raffles (and other fundraising activities)," Politi said.

This year's Sleep Out will include food, live music and games, and a variety of activities to educate participants about homelessness, Politi said. In addition to the campout, students involved with the Sleep Out Club also visit homeless shelters.

The purpose of the visits is "understanding what the shelter really needs and what would best help them," Politi said.

In recognition of the club's efforts, students were recently recognized with the AFL-CIO United Way High School Community Service Award. During the March 27 council meeting, Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler commended the students for their community service and presented Politi and Schottenstein with a proclamation declaring April 6 as Bexley Sleep Out Day.

"You guys have clearly caught the attention and the imagination of the entire Columbus region," Kessler said.

The community's support is essential to the club's success, Politi said.

"I think it shows that our city wants to take a stance against homelessness," she said, "and extend our kindness to those who are not as fortunate."

This year's Sleep Out will benefit the Huckleberry House, a shelter for homeless teens and young adults ages 12 to 21 located at 1421 Hamlet St. in Columbus. Proceeds will assist Huckleberry House in providing food, hygiene products, education and job opportunities for individuals in the shelter, according to the event's GoFundMe page.

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