Gathering a few euros during last weekend's charity sleep-out in Ballybofey
It was 3am on a freezing Saturday morning on Ballybofey’s Main Street. The cold was seeping up through my cardboard mattress.
It was time to get up and stretch and try and get some heat back into the body. In any event the noise of the constant stream of articulated trucks and Saturday night revellers often interrupted that light sleep.
The song ‘Streets of London’ and Shane McGowan’s ‘Fairytale of New York’ constantly rang through my head as I sat in front of the bright lights of McElhinney’s windows and the newly installed Christmas decorations.
I was privileged to join John McElhinney, his family and team in a sleep out to highlight the plight of the growing numbers of homeless people on the streets of Ireland, as well as raising funds for North West Simon.
Organised by Sandra Devenney this was a no frills affair. It was cardboard boxes and sleeping bags - the only difference was that we had hope. We knew that come the morning we could pack up and go home to a warm shower and catch up on some lost sleep.
Lying on that cold pavement as silence fell on what was earlier a jovial crowd, numerous thoughts raced through the head. I thought about the reality those sleeping rough or in hostels who have nothing to look forward to in the morning as they wander the streets with no purpose until night fell once again.
The generosity of the local people who streamed over bringing hot drinks and food, the drivers of large lorries who gave us all the large “hoots” and donated, and even those on their way back from their nights out took the time to stop by, chat, cheer us up and give donations. We had managing directors sleeping out, champion boxers, IT and Marketing specialists, people from all walks of life. But on Saturday night we were all one.