DES MOINES, Iowa — Homeless is a growing problem in metro communities around the nation. One organization is working to help homeless youth in central Iowa.

Reggie’s Sleepout is a fundraising event that raises money for helping homeless youth in central Iowa, as the funds go towards the Iowa Homeless Youth Centers.

The first sleepout was established in 2005 in honor of Reggie Kelsey, who was found dead in the Des Moines River after he grew out of the foster care program.

The sleepout returned to Drake University’s campus with participants building cardboard shelters on the football field. Teams construct the shelters that they will stay in overnight. There are winners for the best-looking shelters, a talent show and dinner for all who participate.

“It’s just having people understand the dynamics around homelessness, having empathy for the individuals that they see that are homeless on the streets,” said Toby O’Berry, the director of the Iowa Homeless Youth Center. “And the youth that we work with they are extremely resilient, they all have gone through a lot of trauma, but it is not too late. We would rather help them now when they are 18, 19 before they are chronically homeless…and the funds from this event help make this a reality.”

$100,000 was raised for the Iowa Homeless Youth Center just from this year’s sleepout, which pushes Reggie’s Sleepout over the $2 million mark for money raised since it began.

To donate to those efforts or learn more about the fundraiser, click on this link.