Family Promise of the Palouse presented the first Cardboard Box City fundraising event Sept. 20, to increase awareness about homelessness in the area.
The event required participants to spend the night outside, with nothing but handcrafted cardboard boxes for shelter.
Lindsey Rinehart, executive director of Family Promise on the Palouse, said the goal was ultimately to raise awareness by symbolizing sleeping outside in a very visible place.
“We’ve been really fortunate with how generous the community has been,” Rinehart said. “We’re really relying on our fundraisers and community support.”
Family Promise does not receive government funding, but rather relies on fundraising events like the Cardboard Box City and their own grant writing team, Rinehart said. Several Family Promise affiliates in the area have also held Cardboard Box City events.
The event took place simultaneously in Moscow and Pullman, from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. People of all ages and from several organizations were involved.
The Vandal Volunteers was one such organization. Ali Nuckles, a University of Idaho senior and member of the club, said they look for ways to get involved in the community outside of campus.
“I think that homelessness is an issue that a lot of people think only affects the big cities,” Nuckles said. “But there are homeless people in our area.”
One of the Vandal Volunteers team members spent the night in the box they built in just an hour and a half.
Prior to the event, organizers decided the cardboard box city would be built, rain or shine.
Cardboard Box City offered participants dinner, breakfast and entertainment, but they had to build their own cardboard house, bring their own sleeping bags, and “resident-participants” had to pay “rent” of at least $50 per individual or group up to five.
This rent is how Cardboard Box City raised funds for Family Promise of the Palouse. If people did not want to camp out, they could still donate time or money to the cause.
To encourage participation, Rinehart said they also had a competition to see whether Moscow or Pullman could raise more money for the cause.
The top fundraiser became Mayor of Cardboard Box City and won a prize. Prizes for creativity were also awarded.
Jeremiah Wheeler, 11, and Collin Burrow, 10, manned one of the more creative boxes. Their cardboard box was made into a fish tank for them to sleep in, but they said their idea was to make the best of the project, and have fun.
Family Promise is a national program with 184 affiliates around the country, including local ones in Lewiston, Coeur d’Alene and Spokane.
Family promise will begin hosting families Oct. 6.
Rinehart said they have already trained over 100 volunteers, and have 13 hosts total.
The Moscow event was held in the parking lot of the Eastside Marketplace, and the Pullman event was located in the parking lot of Chipman and Taylor.
Alycia Rock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org