MURRAY — The Murray-Calloway County Homeless Coalition is preparing for an event set to take place in July to help raise awareness of the issue of homelessness in Calloway County. 

The event, which is currently planned for July 19, is intended to raise awareness of the problem while simultaneously raising funds to help address it through the construction of tiny homes. Jennifer Riley with the coalition said the “Night on the Town” event would see people occupy similar conditions that homeless individuals deal with on a nightly basis. 

Those participating will be staying from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. to simulate a full eight hours. 

“It is called a ‘sleep out,’ so we are doing it for eight hours to represent an eight-hour night of sleep,” Riley said. “We are going to have people that are volunteering to be what we call ‘box dwellers.’ They are challenged to raise $1,000 a piece and they will be in the boxes during the activity.” 

Riley said they are still looking for volunteers and sponsors for the event. She said there will be plenty of activities and other amenities for attendees as well, but the more support the event can get, the more impact can be made. 

“We have about 13 box dwellers so far, but we would love to have about 24,” Riley said. “We will need volunteers to do things like work different tables. We are also looking for sponsors to sponsor anywhere from $50 to $500.” 

Riley said about 16 percent of Calloway County’s population is currently living in poverty, and that a specific metric for the number of homeless individuals in the county is hard to know. 

“There is not a good way to come up with a number, because a lot of them want to be under the radar. So hard statistics are difficult to come by,” Riley said. “But I have people contact me about three times a week. I had someone call me the other day and say there was a 19 and a 20-year-old that were looking for jobs and a place.” 

Riley said that The Gentry House is the only agency in Calloway County that provides shelter to homeless individuals. But with Gentry House, children are a requirement for consideration. 

“Gentry House is an awesome ministry, but they are full most of the time and you have to have children to qualify,” Riley said. “Otherwise, if you need shelter, you have to go to Paducah or Paris (Tennessee). So we are trying to remedy that, not with a shelter, but by forming a tiny home community.” 

Riley said the event is still in the planning stages, but those interested in volunteering or sponsoring should visit the coalition website at murrayhomeless.org.  

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