Students "Sleep-Out For The Homeless": Is This Effective Advocacy?

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

There's a new trend among some of America's active youth. It's called "Sleeping Out For The Homeless." Groups of people gather in a local park or on the sidewalk and spend the night in sleeping bags or under cardboard boxes, to raise awareness about homelessness.

These groups often raise money for local veteran support groups or national homelessness organizations, but the "sleep-outs" are also facing an online backlash. criticizes an article in the Simpson College newspaper titled 'Students experience homelessness.'

Shannon Moriarty from gives a list of things she thinks would enhance the advocacy event:

Openly acknowledge that one night camping out in a monitored group environment is a completely different experience than losing everything and ending up on the streets. A one-night camping experience can never replicate the stress, fear, pain, loss of pride, and loss of hope that often coincides with being homeless.

According to The Simpsonian, the original sleepout began in 2006 as Reggie's Sleepout, named after a homeless man who drowned in the Des Moines river after growing out of the foster care system.

The Reggie's Sleepout website shows over $92,000 in donations raised for the 4th annual sleepout. The website also makes no claims that attendees will "experience homelessness." The sleepout does, after all, take place in a stadium with food and beverages provided.

Have you attended a sleepout? Raised money for the homeless? What's the best way to advocate? Leave your comments and we may very well add it to our list of ways to advocate for the homeless.