Chicago Sleepout for Homelessness goes virtual amid COVID-19 pandemic

Casati's Modern Italian, Windy City Sweets, NFL player Whitney Mercilus join forces with Care For Friends
CHICAGO (WLS) -- On Friday, the annual "Sleepout for Homelessness" fundraiser will be held, but it's a bit different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hope Pavich from "Care For Friends" joined ABC 7 Chicago Thursday to talk about it.

The event normally sees 200 people sleeping in tents around campfires in Lincoln Park for one cold February night. But this year it's been turned into a virtual event, including a social media scavenger hunt, an online streaming event featuring NFL Linebacker Whitney Mercilus, and some "hard-core supporters" sleeping on their own porches or apartment courtyards.

Because the effects of the pandemic are so widespread, the organization partnered with two small businesses.

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A Chicago woman who has spent her whole life helping the homeless is now turning hundreds of plastic bags into insulated sleeping mats for he city's unhoused population.

Casati's Modern Italian will be offering a special takeout meal (as well as heated outdoor greenhouse dining and heated igloo dining) on Friday that is tied to the sleepout. Diners can support a local business, help the homeless and get a charitable donation all at the same time.

Windy City Sweets has also gotten in on the act, following the campfire theme with a chocolate-dipped s'mores offering.

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