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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Local homeless organizations are hosting a "Homeless Night Out and Service Fair" on the Downtown Community Plaza tonight.

The event, which offers services to local homeless people, will mean the Union Street Farmers' Market must move to a different location.

The market, which moved to the plaza on Oct. 17 because of lack of space, will move back to its original location in the Sun Center on Wednesday evening.

Jim Wright, executive director of the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, said the group reached an agreement with the city to move the farmers market for this week.

"It's like going back home for the weekend," said Charlie Lybrand, director of the Union Street Farmers' Market.

He said the market will return to the plaza next week.

"I'm sure some of our customers will be confused for a week, but they'll find it," Lybrand said.

Lybrand said the event was booked months before the market signed up for the plaza location.

The City of Gainesville/Alachua County Office on Homelessness and the Homeless Coalition is hosting it.

The service fair in the plaza will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., dinner is from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the Homeless Night Out is from 6:30 p.m. to midnight, a news release stated.

Wright said part of the service fair involves different agencies being present to hand out information.

It will feature more than 30 providers offering services such as blood pressure testing, bicycle repairs, shelter information and food stamp registration, the release stated.

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"We're happy we can get everyone to work together," Wright said.

About two and a half months planning have gone into the event, he said.

The organization has had something on the plaza every year for about six years, but it usually involved a breakfast, he said.

The past couple of years, it has evolved to include more direct services to people, Wright said.

"This is the biggest one that we've done," he said.

Money was donated by individuals and organizations to buy food for the dinner.

The meal is coordinated by the Coalition Hunger Workgroup, and it is prepared and served by Fire of God Ministries, Wright said.

The Homeless Night Out will include an awards presentation and talks by different organizations, the release said. There will also be live music acts at the event, Wright said.

People are encouraged to donate clean blankets, socks and coats at the event so they can be distributed to those who need the items, Wright said.

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