WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Friday’s weather came at a perfect time for the 12th annual Youth Services System Wheeling SleepOut.

The goal of YSS’s Transitional Living Program is to provide housing, life skills and employment assistance for young adults ages 17 through 21. Many of these youths are experiencing homelessness, have aged out of the system, or for a variety of reasons have found themselves without any place to stay, or a stable support system in their lives.

The proceeds raised tonight will allow YSS to continue running their program 24/7, 365 days a year. Officials with YSS tell us that they need the public’s help now, more than ever.

“It really started during COVID. You see more people in need of help, more people in need of shelter, housing. You know we have hygiene supplies we give out daily, we have our Sophie Moses Free Store where anybody in the community can come and get clothes if they need them, get furniture, dishes, toys for their kids, and we have seen an uptick. So it makes events like this even more important.”

TUCKER RIGGLEMAN, Digital Media and Communications Coordinator at Youth Services System

This year’s theme is “Once Upon A Time,” and participants are using cardboard to make their favorite fairytale structures that they will spend the night in.

November is also National Runaway Prevention Month, and YSS says this is a perfect time to shine a light on the problem of youth homelessness.