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Kids willing to sleep in boxes being sought

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POSTED April 17, 2012 1:00 a.m.

Dave Thompson is looking for a few kids who are lucky enough not to worry about where they will sleep at night.

The HOPE Family Shelter executive director is recruiting youth to participate in the annual Kids in a Box education and fundraiser set for Friday, April 27, on the grounds of the organization’s Raymus House shelter for mothers and children on Union Road.

It’ll be warm compared to what some kids had to deal with this past winter - the forecast calls for an overnight low of 50 degrees - but even so Thompson said participants find out that it isn’t fun to have to sleep outside.

Thompson said what surprises most participants is that the kids who are homeless are often schoolmates. Participants meet the families living at the shelter, have dinner with them and then retreat to spend a night in box houses they put together. The event is supervised by adults.

The boxes are often decorated to look like everything from doll houses to gigantic shoes.

The event typically raises $3,000.

Thompson said that may not sound like a lot, but the overall budget for the three shelters HOPE operates is $156,000.

HOPE has almost a 75 percent success rate. That means that three-quarters of the people they have helped since opening 20 years ago - or about 3,000 of the 4,000 that includes children - have ended up being able to stay in rental housing.

More than 60 percent of the $156,000 needed to run the shelters each year comes from the private sector with the rest through federal and state grants. Included in that private sector support are monthly contributions from 16 churches.

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