ATOs at Temple ditch the house for a cause

26 February

Joshua Deephouse slips into his sleeping bag and lays his head down on the thin plastic covering the ground. The temperature tonight is hovering just above 30 degrees; he feels every rush of air through his tent and hears every sound as he prepares to sleep outside.

You might mistake him for one of the 4,000 homeless people living on the streets of Philadelphia on any given day, but Joshua isn’t homeless. The Temple University senior and president of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity chapter organized a camp-out to raise awareness over the plight of homelessness.

“Homelessness is everywhere in Philadelphia,” said Deephouse. “And since there are a lot of commuters on campus, it’s something we see everyday, but it doesn’t register how serious this issue is. This event just puts it right in everyone’s face for 30 straight hours and we hope to spread the word.”

Alpha Tau Omega brothers pitched tents on the grounds near the Bell Tower Wednesday morning and endured the elements through Thursday afternoon. They have repeated this ritual for four years now, in an effort to raise money for the Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness, or PCEH, and its programs. Philadelphians founded the non-profit in 1982 to reduce the number of homeless people living on the streets. Through prevention and intervention, PCEH members take to the streets to help those in need, and they offer basic necessities — including showers and clothing — to provide a sense of dignity.

And when the ATO fraternity brothers are not sleeping outside, they’re making a lot of noise, shaking cans for monetary donations and handing out flyers to help the homeless population well after the camp-out ends.

“It’s a different experience if you’re not accustomed to camping,” said ATO fraternity vice president Matthew Jacob. “We do this once a year; homeless people, they don’t have a choice — and that’s the whole point of this camp-out.”

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