Group braves dangerous temps to raise money for homeless vets

Dangerously cold temperatures caused many people to cancel outdoor activities for the weekend, but one group in Hartland moved forward with its event Saturday, Feb. 13.

On a night like Saturday, as temperatures approached zero degrees, it was cold even with a big fire roaring. Still, a group of men chose to sleep outside to honor those who don't have a choice -- and canceling wasn't an option.

For around 20 people, tents and boxes are where they'll sleep Saturday night, or at least attempt to sleep. It was the second annual Sleepout for Veterans at the American Legion in Hartland -- two nights of sleeping outside, even if it's below zero.

"We want to bring real awareness to what our veterans go through when they’re homeless," said Mark Pape, commander sons of the American Legion.

Sleepout for Veterans in Hartland

The event raises money for various organizations that help homeless veterans. It includes collecting a truckload of donations for the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative.

"If we come across a veteran who is homeless, who may be living in their car or outside in the elements such as the weather we’re experiencing today, we take those financial resources and we put them in a hotel while we are working with partners to find permanent housing for them," said Debbie Buchanan, the initiative's executive director.

Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative

Buchanan said the need is even greater after a year like 2020; the organization experienced a 30% rise in the number of veterans coming through its doors.

That's why some of the coldest nights of the season didn't freeze Saturday night's event.

"We’re not going to cancel because of weather, do the homeless cancel because it’s cold?" Pape said.

Sleepout for Veterans in Hartland

The event will be collecting donations until noon on Sunday, Feb. 14.

A wind chill advisory is in effect for all of southeastern Wisconsin from Saturday until noon Sunday. During that time, bitter cold swings through as temperatures get well below -5°F and wind chills surpass -20°F or colder.

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Wind chill advisory in effect for SE Wisconsin until noon Sunday

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Advisory for the entire FOX6 viewing area from 7 p.m. Saturday until 12 p.m. Sunday.