HJ/EDHerald Journal, Nov. 21, 2005

Sleeping outside to help others

By Liz Hellmann
Staff Writer

While many people are complaining about the high cost of heating their homes this winter, Chris Schanus of Howard Lake is also worried about staying warm, but it’s not the energy bills that concern him.

Schanus spends his nights outside in a tent with no heaters, and only blankets and a hat to keep him warm.

“It is a little bit challenging to sleep out like that and still function in your everyday life,” Schanus said. “I get up and still feel really tired.”

Schanus is one of four individuals who are sleeping outside to raise money for Love In the Name of Christ (INC) Heartland.

The group is dedicated to helping out those in the community, whether it is providing transportation, furniture, referrals, resumé help, or school supplies.

“We sort of borrowed this idea (to sleep outside) from Bob Fisher of Wayzata, who has been doing a fundraiser like this for several years,” Schanus said.

Although the nights are starting to get cold for Schanus, they are never boring.

His tent is set up on the deck outside of his house, and he can hear the cars go by on Highway 12. Sometimes, the traffic wakes him up, especially in the early morning, when a neighbor leaves for work at 3 a.m.

But it’s not always vehicles that interrupt his sleep.

“I heard coyotes a couple nights ago,” Schanus said.

So what makes Schanus do battle with the cold, snow, and wild animals every night?

“I’m just doing my part,” Schanus said.

Love INC Heartland kicked off its sleepout Nov. 5. The goal of the organization’s main fundraiser is $50,000.

If Love INC Heartland meets its goal, this will be the only fundraiser they have to do this year.

“One thing we didn’t want to do is fatigue people’s giving, and constantly be going to them for money,” Schanus said.

The goal was set at this dollar amount because it is the estimated cost for maintaining the infrastructure of the organization, which is non-profit, for one year.

Two weeks into the fundraiser, the group has raised about $9,500, a little less than one-fifth of its goal. Schanus hopes more people will start giving quickly, or it looks like it might be a long, cold winter for him.

“Now, I put down three blankets and a sleeping bag and wear a hat, but there’s still the issue of my nose and face getting cold,” Schanus said.

Other ideas to raise money were considered, but the group felt the sleepout could also help raise awareness.

“You might not see people walking the streets with shopping carts, but my experience with Love INC is there are a lot of people who need help,” Schanus said.

Love INC Heartland opened its new office in Delano in September and is made up of 14 area churches that help people who can’t afford to buy dinner, pay the rent, or put gas in their car.

The group doesn’t just dole out charity, but helps people get back on their feet, so they can help themselves.

“There are a lot of different situations people find themselves in, and they might need a helping hand,” Schanus said.

Schanus has seen the good effects of Love INC, whether it be helping a family afford Christmas gifts after the dad breaks his leg and can’t work, or finding furniture for a single mom who had to flee a violent situation.

It’s these stories that make Schanus unzip his tent every night and crawl under the blankets.

“It’s been a learning experience,” Schanus said. “An experience in giving.”

How to help

Donations to Love INC Heartland can be sent to: Love INC Heartland, PO Box 143, Delano, MN 55328.

For more information on the sleepout, call (763) 972-6547.

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