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Kids willing to sleep in boxes sought
Malia Watson was among the participants in last years Kids in a Box effort. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• KIDS IN A BOX: Kids collect pledges and spend the night sleeping in decorated boxes on the evening of Friday, Sept. 19, on the grounds of the Raymus Home on South Union Road. For more information call HOPE Family Shelter staffer Donna Reed at 209.824.6058.

Dave Thompson is looking for a few kids who are lucky enough not to worry about where they will sleep at night.

The HOPE Family Shelter executive director is recruiting youth to participate in the annual Kids in a Box education and fundraiser set for Friday, Sept. 19, on the grounds of the organization’s Raymus House shelter for mothers and children on Union Road.

It’ll be warm compared to what some kids will have to deal with this winter. Even so organizers said participants will find out that it isn’t fun to have to sleep outside.

Kids, as individuals or teams, construct shelters from cardboard. Some are very elaborate and others simple. The boxes are often decorated to look like everything from doll houses to gigantic shoes.

The boxes are set up in the Raymus House grounds for the kids to sleep in during the overnight event. The kids collect pledges for participating. The money received helps HOPE Ministries provide for the ongoing operating expenses of their family shelters.

Thompson in the past has said what surprises most participants is that they kids who are homeless are often schoolmates. Participants meet the families living at the shelter, have dinner with them and then retreat to spend a night in box houses they put together. The event is supervised by adults.

HOPE Ministries has been operating family shelters continuously since 1993 including Hope Family Shelter and Raymus House.

In a typical year HOPE provides shelter to 623 families and some 100 kids. Many eventually found permanent shelter thanks to the HOPE Shelter programs.

HOPE has almost a 75 percent success rate. That means that three-quarters of the people they have helped since opening 21 years ago — or about 3,000 of the 4,000 that includes children — have ended up being able to stay in rental housing.

Almost all of the $150,000 needed to run the shelters each year comes from the private sector with a little coming from federal and state grants. Included in that private sector support are monthly contributions from 16 churches.

Thompson said the organization has concerns this year about being able to serve the same number of families in the past as they were unable to make their budget last year putting a strain on their finances.

All donations are fully deductible.

For more information contact Donna Reed at 209.824.0658 or drop by Raymus House at 520 South Union Road, Manteca.