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By BECCA OWSLEY
ELIZABETHTOWN — A small city built out of cardboard boxes will be set up Friday at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in support of Warm Blessings.
Warm Blessings is a non-profit, volunteer-based meal kitchen currently located at College Heights Methodist Church in Elizabethtown.
Participants will pay a minimum of $50 rental fee for the box and will spend the night inside, with only a handful of necessities allowed.
Pledges can be made to contribute to an individual’s rent to raise money for the event and any donations will be accepted.
“It is a unique event to our area,” said Linda Funk, executive board chairperson. “We’re hoping that through this event people can have fun doing something that is on a serious subject, like not having enough to make ends meet and winding up in a homeless situation.”
Participants are encouraged to bring only necessities, such as sleeping bags, and leave electronic devices — laptops, cell phones, hand-held games and iPods — at home to get as close to a genuine homeless experience as possible.
Funk hopes to have 60 to 100 people participate in the event. Corn hole games, a raffle for an autographed U of L and U of K football and silent auction will also take place.
Acoustic instruments are allowed for people to play while camping out in the boxes.
“We are hoping to have a nice evening where people also get some experience of homelessness,” Funk said.
The event is for all ages but if a child younger than 18 is participating that person must be accompanied by an adult.
Proceeds will help support Warm Blessings meal kitchen and their goal to establish an emergency shelter. Currently the organization provides meals three nights a week at College Heights Methodist church.
Organizers hope to raise enough money to have a building of their own to provide meals seven days a week and shelter for those in the area who are homeless or struggling.
They are currently looking at existing buildings to purchase that would fit their needs as well as board members with experience in grant writing.
Jay Gabbard, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Western Kentucky University, will participate in the event with the support of his students.
“I am proud to be a part of this innovative project furthering public awareness about the increasing problem of homelessness in Kentucky and the U.S.,” Gabbard said. “After looking at some preliminary data, I am convinced that Elizabethtown needs an overnight homeless shelter and that this event is a step in the right direction towards this aim.”
ECTC faculty also are answering the call by having a faculty challenge to see who can get the most pledges for the event.
“So far we have over 50 students, faculty and staff who have committed to staying in a box and raising pledges,” said Jo Yates, program coordinator at ECTC. “One of the fun things going on with this is that there are faculty challenging each other.”
Pledge sheets and registration forms can be picked up at Lonneman, Blair and Logsdon law office at 202 N. Mulberry St. in Elizabethtown. For more information call (270) 763-3500. The event begins at 7 p.m. and ends at 7 a.m.
Pre-registration is not required but encouraged so organizers can know how many boxes to provide.
Hardin County is a very giving community but they may not realize the need because they don’t come in contact with the homeless on a regular basis, Funk said.
“I pray that people’s eyes will be opened to the need,” she said.
Becca Owsley can be
reached at (270) 505-1741.