CRYSTAL LAKE – Hundreds slept under cardboard roofs and tents Saturday, as they tried to raise record donations for a homeless agency suffering from persistent government shortfalls.
People from across McHenry County gathered at Living Waters Lutheran Church in Crystal Lake to help officials at McHenry County PADS, a division of the Pioneer Center for Humans Services, raise $80,000 to support the county’s homeless.
The lofty goal comes after SleepOut participants last year set a record for the annual fundraiser by raising $70,000 in donations.
The historic community support is needed, as PADS continues to see gaps in state funding, said Christin Kruse, chief development officer for the Pioneer Center.
“PADS would not exist if it were not for the community being here tonight,” Kruse said.
The county’s homeless agency was off to a solid fundraising start even before participants began pitching tents and unraveling duct tape to covert the grounds at Living Waters into a temporary shantytown.
Students from Crystal Lake South High School and Hannah Beardsley Middle School each held SleepOut events on Friday. Before Saturday’s event, PADS officials had tallied $52,000 in county-wide donations.
Officials won’t know until Monday if they set another record and reached their $80,000 fundraising goal, Kruse said.
At Living Waters, SleepOut participants, most of whom came from 20 area schools and churches, listened to testimonials from individuals who have used PADS and enjoyed live music, games and contests.
It was a good sight to see for Patrick Maynard, the president and chief executive of the Pioneer Center, who said PADS has to rely on donations to help close a roughly $500,000 government funding gap each year.
“We are committed to funding PADS one way or the other,” Maynard said. “But luckily people do step up to the plate and give, and recognize the impact that giving has.”