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Youth help raise funds for shelter

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Boys & Girls Club Keystone Club Vice President Emmanuel Torres helps put a box shelter together.


POSTED May 20, 2013 12:17 a.m.

If Emmanuel Torres ended up on the street tomorrow, he wouldn’t fare so well.

For starters, the 15-year-old vice president of the Manteca Boys and Girls Club’s Keystone Club - a leadership academy for teenagers -- struggled with piecing together a makeshift shelter that only needed tape and staples to finish.

Even with a handful of helpers, Torres couldn’t manage get the thick cardboard walls to stick to the wooden frame that had shielded him from the elements when he participated in HOPE Ministries’ “Kid in a Box” fundraiser last year.

But his survival skills didn’t matter. All that mattered when he got together nearly two-dozen other volunteer participants on Friday evening to shun the modern comforts and spend the evening with only a painted corrugated paper shell to keep the wind out was the reason they were there.

“It seemed like a good way to raise money and experience what it’s really like out on the streets,” Torres said. “It’s a chance to build something and use our creativity and get the chance to see that these kids that are homeless are just like any other kids.

“Initially it was Mark McCool that persuaded me to do this, but I see it as a chance to help people -- that’s really what I want to do with my life.”

More than a decade ago a young girl from Tracy came up with a unique way to raise not only money for the homeless in the South County, but awareness as well.

She didn’t stand out on a street corner with a sign. She didn’t go from business to business soliciting donations and spreading the word about what it was she was doing.

She just slept outside, and got friends and family members to give her money to do so - helping to provide funding for the local homeless organization and starting a trend that would soon be picked up by every shelter in San Joaquin County.

While HOPE Family Shelter and Raymus House Executive Director Dave Thompson says that the event held Friday will raise several thousand dollars through the 30-plus kids involved, it’s the awareness part that helps make the event something unique.

“It’s not the biggest fundraiser, but it gets kids involved and shows them that the kids that are here at the shelter are just like them,” he said. “It isn’t something that you have happening at every shelter like you did at one point, but we can see the benefit of it.”

The housing crunch might have put the homeless problem into focus, but HOPE Ministries has long been overwhelmed by the need in the surrounding communities -- boasting a waiting list before the government stepped in and said that a first-come, first-served platform had to be utilized in order to receive grants and funding.

And while the market has rebounded slightly and more houses are being built in Manteca than anywhere else in the South County, homelessness is still an issue.

“We serve a couple of hundred families a year,” Thompson said. “We wish we could do more but the resources just aren’t there. We do all that we can but unfortunately that doesn’t touch the need.”

To contact Jason Campbell, email or call (209) 249-3544.

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