Spending time in a cardboard box is a way youth can learn firsthand about what the homeless face as well as raising money to help those families without homes find a way off the street.
HOPE Ministries is conducting their annual Kids in a Box fundraiser on Friday, May 20, at the Raymus House single mothers shelter at 520 S. Union Road. Youth between the ages 8 and 18 can participate by spending the night in cardboard boxes with adult supervision on the grounds of Raymus House. Participants are asked to collect pledges although that is not the main objective.
HOPE Shelter Executive Director Dave Thompson has noted it is important that young people understand what some of their peers are up against day-to-day. Manteca Unified officials indicated some 700 students are homeless. While they may not be living on the streets - although some do on a temporary basis - most live in motels, campsites, couches of friends, in garages, and other non-traditional places.
HOPE Ministries was started 19 years ago. The original family shelter at Yosemite and Sequoia in the original Manteca Hospital building is now under renovation. The Raymus House – a former rest home on South Union Road that the Raymus family rents to HOPE Ministries for $1 a year – accommodates nine single moms and their children. There is also a six-unit transitional housing complex near Doctors Hospital where families can stay up to two years and pay 30 percent of their income in rent.
The three shelters served 108 families last year that included 226 children. The shelter doesn’t keep a “waiting list” per se but they do field 20 to 40 calls a day from people looking for shelter.
HOPE Ministries is getting by with $150,000 although they budgeted $168,000 to operate the three shelters. They cut back on staff and some assistance programs for clients. They also pared back external efforts such as providing emergency food for the needy or helping with part of a month’s rent payment when a family incurs an emergency expense so it can help avoid them from becoming homeless.