Bloomington, Indiana – On a cold Christmas Eve day, Bloomington Police say a man sleeping in Seminary Park died. He was 51-years-old, according to police. It is heartbreaking news to a single mom who drove past that same man at the park a few weeks back.

Katie Norris said he inspired her program, Hotels for Homeless, to raise money so those experiencing homelessness had a warm place to sleep on Christmas Eve.

With the community’s support and help, Hotels for Homeless was able to raise more than $5,000 in a few weeks. The money helped provide shelter for more than 100 people on Thursday night.

“It makes me feel really good that Bloomington is such an amazing place and we have such amazing people that we came together and decided nobody is going to freeze on our streets tonight on Christmas Eve,” she said.

Warm meals and toiletries were also donated by the community. This is a year that has taken so much. Norris is ending 2020 by giving back.

“It is important that we show kindness to people and give them the dignity that they deserve, especially on this day,” she explained.

Several Bloomington hotels participated in the program. Even if it was just for one night, guests were filled with gratitude as they checked into their rooms.

“I have been homeless for 5 years and Christmas Eve, I have never had a nice place to stay. It’s wonderful,” said one woman.

She added, “People look down at us the way they treat us. Just to have people care again means so much, especially around the holidays.”  

Hotels for Homeless was launched in Bloomington at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For nine moths, the organization has offered hotel rooms to local families displaced.