THE night itself didn't go completely as planned, but big-hearted 10-year-old Connor Klower has still achieved his aims for a fundraising sleepout to support the vulnerable.
(min cost $8)
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Connor signed up for the Vinnies' Community Sleepout hoping to raise $5000 to go towards St Vincent de Paul projects in Bathurst that include cooking classes and a mobile food van to give out meals to people and families in need.
He chose $5000 as an aim because he wanted to raise half the amount that was being targeted by St Vincent de Paul Bathurst volunteers in their own sleepout at Bathurst Showground before they had to cancel the event due to illness among members, among other factors.
Connor's nan Marina Gray said, as of this week, Connor was only about $300 off his target.
"And his fundraising account is open until the end of the month," she said.
She said Connor's decision to take part in the sleepout had generated plenty of attention for an important cause.
"When Connor was out fundraising, people stopped and told him they recognised him from his story [in the Western Advocate] and said what a great job he was doing," she said.
"They talked with him about homelessness, and that was great.
"He was able to raise awareness, which was just as good as raising money."
As for the sleepout itself, which was held on Friday, August 19 and into the next morning, it presented some challenges.
The original aim had been to sleep out in a paddock at Ms Gray's place at Billywillinga, north-west of Bathurst, but Ms Gray said the pair had to adjust that plan because it was too wet after recent rain.
Instead, they slept out on the verandah in sleeping bags that are given out to the homeless - "to feel the extremes of the weather, like they do".
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As Ms Gray predicted in the lead-up to the fundraiser, nature found them during the evening.
"We did have animals stopping by during the night," she said.
"We had roos coming up near where we were sleeping and making noises.
"We had a rabbit or hare run over us. There were noises around us everywhere; we didn't know what they were.
"Bugs were creeping into our sleeping pods.
"Connor had great empathy from the sleepout and felt extremely vulnerable during the night.
"Yes, he said he was scared and doesn't know how some people do it every night."
Ms Gray said she explained to Connor that not all homeless sleep out in the elements and that some couch-surf, some stay in shelters and some sleep in cars.
"I explained that when someone doesn't have a home, they have no place to sleep, eat or to permanently keep their belongings," she said.
"Not everyone has friends or family who can help them right now, so they have to find different places to sleep each night.
"Not everyone has enough money to own or rent a home, because these things are very expensive.
"They might not be able to work right now, or maybe their job doesn't pay them enough money for them to afford a house.
"He has a better understanding."
Those who would like to donate to Connor's fundraising effort can do so at https://my.fundraise.vinniesnsw.org.au/vinnies-community-sleepouts/connor-and-nanny-sleepout.
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