Justin Barnes knows all about tough times.
He battled alcohol and drugs for eight years, he said, and his work running heavy construction equipment is sporadic at best.
Even so, Barnes said, he knows a lot of people who are worse off than he is. He talks with them each day he volunteers at the Mooresville Soup Kitchen at 275 S. Broad St. He's helped there for 4 1/2 years.
"I know of five personally who are homeless," he said.
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But untold others may be temporarily homeless or on the verge of losing their homes, he said.
Barnes, 30, hopes to raise awareness of Mooresville's homeless through a community camping night he's organizing outside the Mooresville Soup Kitchen Dec. 3-4.
About a dozen residents signed up the first day Barnes posted the event on Facebook last week, including Jody Schwandt, who directs the Mooresville Soup Kitchen.
"I think it's a great thing," Schwandt said. "People don't think of Mooresville as having homeless people. They think of Race City USA, Lowe's corporate, the affluent. It's a blessed town. But we forget what unemployment has done..."
Barnes also belongs to the Life group at Cove Church in south Iredell and said members of that group plan to attend.
The sleepover will begin at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 and last until 10 a.m. Dec. 4. Barnes said a warm breakfast will be cooked that Saturday morning for the entire community.
Register for the sleepover on Mooresville Soup Kitchen's Facebook page. Click on the "Be AWARE: Homeless Awareness" link.
Barnes worked for the same construction company for 10 years before it went out of business. A recent construction job dried and he's looking for work. But Barnes said many other people don't even have homes, and that's why he'll be in a sleeping bag or tent on Dec. 3.