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updated: 10/30/2013 7:53 PM

Local students raising more than $2,500 for homeless families

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Naaz YarKhan

Brother, Sister Duo Expand Efforts to Other Schools

Glen Ellyn, IL, September 27, 2013: To combat the family homelessness crisis, Glen Ellyn based Bridge Communities is planning its 10th annual Sleep Out Saturday on Nov 2nd, 2013, in a county-wide event to raise money for housing programs and awareness of family homelessness in DuPage County. Bridge Communities will feature approximately 75 outdoor sleep out sites in DuPage yards and parking lots, with adults and students sleeping in the cold in boxes, tents and cars to mimic the homeless experience.

The 25-year-old organization is challenging the approximately 2,000 DuPage residents who will sleep out in the cold for Sleep Out Saturday to raise donations for this cause. Taskeen Khan, and her brother, Yousuf Khan, 11, a Hadley student, have galvanized not just individuals but organizations to join the effort. " My brother and I have done Sleep Out Saturday as kids and, some years, have used Halloween trick or treating to collect donations instead of treats. This year we wanted to take our participation up a notch and bring other schools and mosques in as supporters," said Taskeen Khan, 16.

As a result, this is the first time ever that Team MSI comprising the MSI Sunday School and congregation at the Khan siblings' mosque, Muslim Society Inc., (MSI) in Glendale Heights, IL, will be participating. "I was recently at a PADS Shelter, serving the homeless and saw my son's best friend's father there," said Mrs. Seema Raheemullah, MSI Sunday School Principal. "We'd seen him at every school event from kindergarten through high school, and now, here he was at a shelter." The enormity of the homeless issue, and what the economic downturn in the USA had left in its wake, really hit home for Mrs. Raheemullah and when Taskeen and Yousuf asked MSI Sunday School to join Sleep Out Saturday, she agreed it had to be done.

Taskeen Khan has also created a network of advocates for the homeless. In the 2012-2013 school year, 1,287 homeless students attended DuPage County schools and it was only natural to tap into student leaders at various schools, who then initiated the conversation at their own schools or amongst friends. Muzzamil Farooqi, 14, a Student Council Leader at IFS in Villa Park, IL is a Sleep Out Saturday advocate, creating Team IFS. "Helping those in need is important to me because the Prophet Muhammed taught us that whoever alleviates the lot of a needy person, Allah will alleviate his lot in this life and the next," said Muzzamil Farooqi. " It's just the right thing to do. We are so blessed, it's important not to forget those who aren't as lucky." In friendly rivalry, Team MSI and Team IFS faced off, cumulatively raising over $2500 in less than a week exclusively via Facebook.

Taskeen Khan has also galvanized three more groups - teams initiated and led by Naperville North High School student, Camraan Khan, 15, and at Avery Coonley School by Middle Schoolers and Lisle, IL residents, Yaseen Ahmed, 12 and Ibrahim Ahmed, 10, brothers on the Student Council. At her own high school, Glenbard West in Glen Ellyn, she created a leadership team comprising fellow Sophomore's Clair Tylke, Diana Rivera and Samantha Barbosa. Besides raising funds via social media, Team West will hold a bake sale and a raffle both at Glenbard West and at the Sleep Out Saturday Rally in downtown Glen Ellyn (505 Crescent Blvd.) at 6:30 p.m. on Nov 2, 2013.

"People often don't realize that there are homeless families and children in our area," says Mark Milligan, co-founder and current president of Bridge Communities. "But we help many families who had a life trauma like illness or unemployment that threw them into poverty."

Since its first event in 2003, 9,500 people have slept out to help homeless families, raising over $800,000 to date for Bridge Communities' Transitional Housing Program, which serves more than 120 families annually. The organization's services provide approximately two years of housing, life-skills mentoring, financial counseling, employment training, tutoring and an auto repair and donation program. With client families having an even harder time maintaining employment and making ends meet, Bridge Communities continues to increase the services it provides.

Everyone in DuPage County is invited to participate in Sleep Out Saturday or to make a contribution. To donate, visit Check out Sleep Out Saturday on Facebook at