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NFL's Whitney Mercilus Joins Sleepout for Homelessness in Chicago

Linebacker wants to Give CPS Students a Chance To Succeed

January 21, 2021  (Chicago, IL)

Care For Friends announced today that Whitney Mercilus will be joining their annual “Sleepout for Homelessness” as the fire lighter for their night-long vigil to end homelessness. The event – which usually involves 200 volunteers sleeping in tents in Lincoln Park overnight – will be virtual this year, with supporters invited to display a candle in their window through the night as a beacon of hope to those who don’t have a home to sleep in.

Mercilus will kick off the event with a ceremonial lighting of the organization’s bonfire on February 19th.

In a video posted to the organization’s website, Mercilus says that he decided to join the event to help the over 16,000 Chicago Public School students who may be experiencing homelessness – getting in the way of their schooling.

Care For Friends has been providing hot meals to Chicago’s homeless for over 50 years, in a program that connects their guests to resources that can get them housed, employed, and connected with medical care.

In 2019, they expanded their services to provide an after-school program and college-prep for over 300 homeless students with the intention of enrolling some in DePaul University’s incoming freshman class. Yet as the COVID pandemic changed the format of schooling in early 2020, the student program shifted to provide resources for distance learning and food security for students and their families.

The Sleepout for Homelessness is held on the third Friday of February – traditionally one of the coldest nights of the year in Chicago – and provides about half of the annual funding necessary for Care For Friends to maintain its programs for approximately 13,000 Chicagoans experiencing homelessness.

“We’re so excited to have Whitney join us for our virtual Sleepout this year,” said Hope Pavich, Care For Friends’ Executive Director. “As a former student at the University of Illinois, he knows how important it is to get kids into school – and we share his commitment to eliminating as many barriers as we can for the most at-risk students in the city.”

Mercilus will be speaking as part of a livestreamed program at on February 19th at 7pm Central.



About Care For Friends

Care For Friends provides easy access to community, food and overall wellness for Chicago’s most vulnerable and under-served people, in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.

Through its programs, the organization successfully connects people with community resources to enable them to achieve a better quality of life.  For more information, please visit


Contact Information:

Hope Pavich, Executive Director  

Phone: 773.932.1010
twitter: @Care_FF      


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