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Cheerleaders spend night in box for homeless
East Union High cheerleaders pass the time playing cards. - photo by HIME ROMERO
How many cheerleaders can you fit into a box?

It’s an answer that the 2010-11 East Union High cheerleading squad learned firsthand Friday night as participants at the HOPE Ministries annual Kid in a Box fundraiser on the sprawling front lawn on Union Road’s Raymus House.

Along with varsity co-captains Hailee Bouthillier and Emily Barron, eight other cheerleaders waited patiently for the sun to go down after erecting their Candyland-themed confines – braving both strong and stirring wind gusts as well as the early threat of rain in order to be there.

“I thought that it would be a good way to help children right here in our community,” said Bouthillier – who says she got the idea after talking about ways to impact the community with her coach. “As a team we thought it would be a good experience to help the less fortunate while letting people know that there are people here in our community that can use our help.”

The threat of bad weather, said HOPE Ministries Executive Director Dave Thompson, drove many of the expected groups away prior to Friday’s event.

But by the time school let out and people started to arrive, the overcast skies made way for sunshine – albeit with a hearty helping of wind that made setting up the enchanted Candyland a challenge upon itself.

While the unexpected break proved to be a blessing, Thompson noted that it only takes a quick look at his roster of families temporarily staying at his shelters to know that the sun isn’t always shining for everyone, and that everything can change just like that.

“So many people are living paycheck-to-paycheck and are only a month away from finding themselves in the same position, and you have other people who legitimately pay their rent every month but find out they’re being evicted because their landlord hasn’t been paying the mortgage,” Thompson said. “This isn’t our biggest fundraiser by a longshot, but it’s a community awareness event that lets people know that there are people out there that need help, and they aren’t very different from you and me.

“Right now I’ve got four mothers that are actively working, and another four that are out every day looking for a job. Events like this help shed light onto what it is that they face on a daily basis, and that makes it so successful.”

The Kids in a Box serves two purposes. One it is to create awareness among the community of the homeless’ plight especially among young people. It also helps raise pledges to support the shelter.