Area businesses planned and executed a number of different events during the week of Dec. 10 (Business Week) to support the annual Sleep Out campaign of Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (IOCP).
Although IOCP is based in Plymouth, businesses from surrounding communities also jumped into the effort to assist 1,700 struggling families in the area.
In Medina, Sleep Out King Peter Larson returned to lend his expertise for a sleep out at Loram Maintenance of Way on Dec. 13.
Employees at Loram held their first Sleep Out ever. The event began with everyone gathered around a giant fire bowl, the flames of which were visible along Arrowhead Drive. About 30 employees were expected to sleep out. A thermometer sign showed that Loram far exceeded its $1,500 goal with total donations of $9,078, up to that point.
Loram employees had just returned from the visit of the Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train to Loretto. They joined community volunteers in collecting food and money donations at that event for food shelves located in Hanover, Maple Plain and Delano. A crowd estimated in the 2,000-range brought in food shelf donations.
At the Loram sleep out, longtime Sleep Out alum Peter Larson, returned from college in California to sleep out with them. He returned just in time to brave a night in the cold. Larson, a 12-year sleep out veteran, agreed to return to his box to encourage community members to support IOCP efforts.
He has slept out every year since he was six years old to raise awareness and funds to help people struggling with homelessness. Since Larson began his efforts, he has slept out 342 nights and raised $534,242, enough to provide one month of emergency housing assistance for 812 IOCP families.
It still is possible to support Larson’s sleep out effort by making a $10 donation on a mobile phone. Send a text to 20222, and enter “IOCP” as the text message. A texter will receive an immediate reply asking him or her to confirm the $10 donation by texting YES. Larson’s goal is to generate 200 text donations by Dec. 31.
Ten area banks held another Business Week event supporting the IOCP Sleep Out. They competed in the first ever Souper Sleep Out Cook-off competition on Dec. 11 at IOCP, 1605 County Road 101 N. in Plymouth. For $10, guests had unlimited tastes of delicious soups and voted for their favorites with their dollars.
In other Sleep Out events, Sunsets Restaurant, of Wayzata, donated a portion of its sales from Dec. 11.
During Shop with a Purpose Day, Dec. 14, 10 businesses donated a portion of their sales. Participating businesses included The Foursome Fine Apparel and Shoes, Bob’s Shoe Repair, Schuler Shoes, Data Doctors, Lindblom Jewelers, Julian Design, Candlelight Floral, Floor to Ceiling Interior Design, The UPS Store Of Wayzata and Family Eye Clinic & Contact Lens Center.
On Dec. 17, Punch Pizza in Wayzata collected donations for the Sewald Family Sleep Out. Anyone who donated $50 received any item on the menu for free that night. Debbie and Dani Sewald have slept outside each night since the Sleep Out began on Nov. 10 and plan to continue their efforts until Christmas Eve, when they will go back into their beds. Mom and younger siblings have joined the girls several nights as well.
“It’s so great that entrepreneurs in our community are taking care of business but also taking care of families and kids,” said LaDonna Hoy, IOCP Executive Director.
In other Sleep Out events, The Wayzata Women’s Chorus presented a benefit concert for IOCP featuring songs of the season at St. Bartholomew Catholic Faith Community in Wayzata. The Holy Name of Jesus Hand Bell Choir, of Medina, provided guest artists. American Financial/Allianz will hold a Sleep Out on Dec. 21.
The goal of this year’s campaign is to raise $1.95 million — an increase of $150,000 over last year — to help struggling families in the area. The campaign started Nov. 10 and runs through Dec. 31 and will help raise awareness of and funds for housing, employment, childcare, food, transportation and outreach. To make a donation, visit www.iocp.org/donate,
Since moving into its new headquarters in Plymouth in 2011, IOCP has seen the need for its services grow 12 percent. The number of families served has grown from about 1,500 to about 1,700.