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Box City packs up in Bridgeport

Posted: September 30, 2012 12:51 p.m.
Updated: September 30, 2012 12:51 p.m.

Lilli Hill, 14, prepares to spend Saturday night in a cardboard box at the Box City fundraising event. (Misael Virgen/For The Signal)

More than 400 Box City dwellers collapsed their make-shift cardboard homes and rolled up their sleeping bags Sunday as the third annual homelessness awareness campaign wrapped up in Bridgeport Park.

As the sun rose on a cluster of cardboard shelters on the south side of Newhall Ranch Road, Box City Chairman Gary Choppe said he was extremely pleased with this year’s attendance.

“We had a phenomenal turnout,” he said at 8 a.m. Sunday as the cluster of cardboard structures in the Box City camp was being dismantled.

The event is organized by Family Promise of SCV to raise funds for Santa Clarita Valley homeless.

Event participants — most of them young teens — representing close to two dozen local churches taking part in the program stayed overnight Saturday in Valencia’s Bridgeport Park.

“Box City is to give people some understanding of what it’s like to sleep in a cardboard box, overnight, like homeless people would,” said Gina Spencer, who attends Santa Clarita United Methodist Church.

Her 12-year-old son Dan spent the night in a “big cabinet box” in Box City and liked it.

Participating teens played board games, lit candles and talked about the experience.

“It was fun except I woke up in the middle of the night a few times,” he said, putting his sleeping bag and pillow into the family car.

His mother proudly pointed to his T-shirt which said: “Make a promise to keep families out of the box.”

Dan, a seventh-grade student at Rio Norte Junior High School, and his mother had assembled boxes together with tape, creating an expanded structure.

One such structure was crushed by a group of participating teens when the event officially ended at 8 a.m.

In the last minutes that Box City was left standing, participant Michael Bowman of Legacy Christian Academy reflected on what he called “a beautiful evening and a great program.”

Bowman spent the night “on guard” as four teen girls slept nearby in a stylishly designed assembly of boxes.

“It’s nice to see everyone come together,” he said, as the girls packed up their things.

“It gives you pause,” he said. “In a year or two, I can see this thing taking over the whole park.”

Choppe is still assessing the amount of funds raised for by this year’s event.




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