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Dozen youngsters spend night in cold
Kitty Walker gets ready to spend the night in her box during HOPE Ministries Kids in a Box benefit Friday for Mantecas homeless shelters. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

A dozen youngsters spent the night in cardboard boxes of their own making at HOPE Ministries’ Raymus House facility for single moms and kids on South Union Road.

It was an effort underwritten by a group of 17 Manteca area businesses to the tune of more than $6,000 that will all go toward helping offset the costs of HOPE Ministries operating their three shelters for families and single moms with children.

The plan was to have the children experience the plight of the homeless, some of whom do sleep in cardboard boxes.  One elongated box in the shape of a triangle had a Port-A-Cool water based air conditioner attached at the rear open end with its flow out the front.

Alexander Glass, 15, and his brother Anthony, 12, had side by side boxes.  Anthony said because his brother snores a little his box was marked “radioactive.” Both boys attend Calvary Chapel Charter School. 

The youths also asked their friends and neighbors to support their efforts by donating cash for the creativity of their mostly cardboard tents that came directly out of their own imaginations in all shapes and sizes.  They were placed beneath a large mulberry tree in front of the facility.

Parents were invited to join in the event at 6 p.m. and enjoy the fun and games that were planned for the families.  A dinner of hamburger and beans was also provided for those in attendance.  The children had play equipment set up to add to their early evening amusement including a bounce house at the rear of the property.  There was also face painting for the kids and a cake walk.  A Stockton bakery donated 15 cakes for the event.

The family members were asked to depart from the Raymus House at 8:30 and the kids were asked to retire to their tent houses for the night.  Gates were locked at 9 p.m.

Mayor Steve DeBrum and his wife Veronica made a surprise appearance and ate with the families.

The Ho Lea’a Lani Ministries provided hula dancers for late evening entertainment.

Gary Colby provided a popcorn machine and made sure it was full for the tenters all night.

This was the 15th year for the event that started out as just an overnight camping out adventure and has evolved into much more for the children who were vying for prizes from having the most unique tent to a runner up in that category.  

Another award was for the boy or girl who secured the most financial pledges from $5 up for them spending the night in their box tents.

The sponsors included Journey Church, South San Joaquin Irrigation District, Westlake Realty, Kiwanis Club, Knight’s Printing, Tuff Boy Trailers, Doctors Hospital Manteca, Simplot, Calvary Church, and the San Joaquin Labor Coalition among others.

Last year HOPE Ministries assisted 240 homeless people of which most were children.

The shelters are on a tight budget of $150,000. Only $30,000 of the money needed to operate the shelters each year comes from government sources. The rest is secured through donations and grants from churches, clubs, and individuals.

HOPE Ministries was launched in 1991 by the Greater Manteca Ministerial Association.


Churches not only provide the seed money and the framework to help housing  challenged families, including those on the streets and those who do not know from week to week where they will be saying whether it is sleeping in someone’s garage or on their couches, but they are also the biggest sources of funds for ongoing operations.


Churches financially supporting HOPE Ministries today include Calvary Community, Crossroads Grace, Place of Refuge, Manteca Christian Worship Center, First Baptist Church of Ripon, First Baptist Church of Manteca, New Hope of Manteca, New Hope of Escalon, Northgate Community Church, Sequoia Heights Baptist, Southside Christian Church, and United Methodist Women.

If you would like to help HOPE Ministries, call 209.824.0658.

To contact Glenn Kahl email or call 209.249.3539,