The homeless — especially families, mothers, and children — are hard to tell apart from those who have a permanent roof over their heads that they can call home.
Over the years, youth who have participated in the HOPE Ministries Kids in a Box benefit for Manteca’s family shelters were surprised to find classmates staying at the Raymus House on South Union Road.
That eye opening experience has had an impact on youth that have participated.
Now HOPE Ministries is stepping up the Kids in a Box concept.
This year’s event on Friday, Sept. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. on the grounds of Raymus House at 520 Union Road will include face painting, a BBQ and a bounce house in a bid to attract more people to raise awareness about homelessness in Manteca.
There will still be an opportunity for kids to create temporary housing out of cardboard boxes and spend the night sleeping in them as well as obtain pledges to do so.
HOPE Ministries Executive Director Cecily Ballungay said it is an opportunity for people to realize there are homeless in the community and that they could be their neighbors.
She noted youth staying overnight require chaperones.
Kids in a Box — along with the annual wine tasting social — are two events being staged in September to help HOPE Ministries provide a temporary place averaging two months for homeless families as well as single moms and children to stay while equipment them with skills to secure more permanent housing.
The wine social is Saturday, Sept. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Delicato Family Vineyards, Highway 99 and French Camp Road. Tickets are $25 each. They are available by calling 824.3080 or 824.0658.
The non-profit HOPE Ministries that secures 90 percent of its $150,000 annual operating budget from Manteca churches, community groups and individuals operates three shelters. One is the HOPE Shelter for homeless families, the other is the Raymus House for mothers and children, and the third is transitional housing units.
Mothers and their children typically stay at Raymus House for two months. During that time they are taught life skills such as money management and are provided various mentoring and counseling services. They also get help at preparing resumes and looking for employment.