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Local residents sleeping outside overnight to raise awareness for homelessness

Melissa Schneider, right, and Andrea Brum, left, the pair that runs DUO (Do Unto Others), which serves meals and warm clothing to the homeless, will be spending 12 hours outside overnight for “A Night in Their Shoes” to raise awareness for homelessness issues in Durham Region. John McNally from One Way Ministries (centre) will be serving hot chocolate, coffee and chili.

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

A couple of local residents who spend their time helping the homeless are going to be spending “A Night in Their Shoes” by spending 12 hours outside overnight to help raise awareness for homelessness issues in Durham Region.

Melissa Schneider and Andrea Brum, the pair that runs DUO (Do Unto Others), an organization that helps serve the homeless during the midnight hours, will be spending the night tonight, Friday, Feb. 19 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. sleeping outside the DUO location, at 454 Simcoe St. S.

This is the second year they will be doing this; the first year they spent the night in tents at Memorial Park.

“We actually had families who came down to camp out,” says Schneider, however, she notes none of the families made it through the night.

“It was just too cold,” she adds.

Schneider and Brum will be spending the night in cardboard boxes with a tarp.

“They look at little bit shabby because they’re cardboard, and we were going to try and paint them to make them look nice, but truthfully, this is a night in their shoes. This is what they have,” Schneider explains. “There aren’t any roofs, we are going to use a tarp and we’re going to live like they do.”

Schneider says she wants the public to better understand what the homeless have to deal with day in and day out.

“I just want people to be aware and see a little bit of it,” she says, noting her biggest message for people is that the homeless are no different than anyone else.

Schneider is inviting the public to come down and check out DUO’s location, to see what they are all about and how they can help DUO to help the homeless.

“I want people to be able to walk through the building, see how the donations are set up, to see there’s a kitchen and bathrooms, and that the people who come in to utilize our services are very humane inside.”

Schneider says she wishes she could invite everyone to come and stay the night and experience an eight-hour deal in a tent during a cold night.

“No bathroom, no other food, no heat source… you can’t believe how terrible that feels,” she says.

DUO has set up a GoFundMe page for donations. In addition, donations of new or clean, gently used winter boots, blankets sleeping bags, large back packs, coats, gloves and hats can be dropped off at DUO’s location.

“We thank everyone in our community for their support in the past and we appreciate even the smallest donation,” the page reads. Funds raised will be used towards the purchase of zero gravity chairs as well as for supplies to be used at DUO.

To donate to the GoFundMe page, visit