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It’s 21°F/-6°C outside.

How many layers of clothes would you need

to survive a night in this cold?

Three pairs of pants? Maybe a pair of thermal underwear beneath all of them? (Can you even fit into three pairs of pants?)

What about your top half? Sweatshirts? Sweaters? Do you pile on the wool layers or the newer, expensive fabrics?

Two hats or three?

I’m being completely serious with my questions. I just took the dog outside for one last pee, and the grass is crunchy. The dog hopped around like she was walking on hot coals — it didn’t stop her from having to find the exact, right spot to pee (seriously, what is it with dogs? if it’s that friggin’ cold outside just do your business and get back inside already!) — but it was still cold enough that she didn’t want to put her feet down for too long. (Note to self: Must look for cozy booties for dog tomorrow.).

When I lived out of my car through the winter (starting in January), this is how I dressed: Thick socks, yoga leggings, long-sleeved t-shirt, hoodie, topped off with flannel-lined coveralls, hood up on hoodie over a knit cap. Then I stuffed myself into my thermal sleeping bag, covered up my head with the mummy top, and tried to get comfy in the front seat of my Mazda 6, in which the seats did not lay even close to flat.

But that was in a car. I had a luxury others don’t have.

Watching the dog hop around outside, I thought about what Gerry and William said.

Last year, Jerry said (and I quote from last year’s email): “You know, I used to be like all these other people. I’d see a homeless person up ahead of me and I’d cross the street. I didn’t want to deal with them. But once you’re in this situation, you feel subhuman, you feel less than everyone else. Other people look at you …” his voice trails off and tears well in his eyes. “I’m just saying, if you’ve never been homeless, you don’t understand what it’s like. Try living on the street for one night and see how you do. Please just think about that before you judge us.”

And of course, you remember William. He’s the one who talked about knowing people who couldn’t get in to a shelter and froze to death overnight.

This isn’t a movie. This isn’t some t.v. drama.

These are real people, and there are countless others out there.

Some won’t survive tonight.

Think I’m being dramatic? I’m not. I’m being honest. Brutally honest.

It’s okay if you don’t want to think about being in this situation at 56 years old, or 65 years old, or 72 years old. It’s okay if you want to turn away. Really. It’s all good.

But before you turn away, just consider how you would dress to survive a night like this.

A little help goes a long way to make life more bearable for these folks. Thank you for anything you can provide!

Sending love on a cold night,
Alicia Jean Demetropolis
President and Founder
The Global Humanity Initiative

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