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'Cardboard Box' event draws 90

Taylor Nesvold, 10, and Mallary Remund, 7, peek out of their complex network of cardboard boxes at the Cardboard Box City event Saturday in Adrian.1 / 2
Some cardboard box setups at the Cardboard Box City Saturday were relatively simple, like this one, which contained only a sleeping bag and some personal items, all covered by a tarpaulin.2 / 2

ADRIAN -- About 90 people came together to raise awareness of the plight of homeless people in Minnesota, sleeping in cardboard boxes and tents in city parks in Adrian and Brewster Saturday night.

"I'm extremely pleased with the participation," said Nichole Paladie, social action coordinator for the Worthington Deanery, who organized the event. "We can't wait to do it next year."

Families and youth groups gathered in city parks, constructing their own cardboard box city using boxes, tents, tarps and plenty of bungee cords.

Some of the box "homes" were simple boxes, open at one end. Others looked more like above-ground rabbit warrens, with several boxes joined together to provide sleeping space for multiple families, with a tarp as a "roof."

"I think it really opens your eyes about homelessness -- what it would be like to stay out and what you'd have to eat," said Tess Cooper, 14, of Pipestone.

Participants in the Cardboard Box City event were told not to bring any food, but could eat soup from a mini "soup kitchen" and bread donated from area bakeries and grocery stores.

Catholic Charities organized the event, but people from many different churches and groups joined in to make Cardboard Box City happen, including bands and many, many volunteers.

"It's a really good cause," said Wesley Berger, a singer in the band From Day One, which played in both event locations, entertaining the crowd.

Participants in Cardboard Box City did a scavenger hunt and learned facts about homelessness, and tasted authentic hobo soup made by Mike Anderson, who was once homeless. Speakers from the Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council (SMOC) and Western Community Action (WCA) spoke about homelessness.

Attendees at the event raised money for the homeless in conjunction with Homeless Awareness Month. Money will be divided between SMOC and WCA, both of which help the homeless through a variety of programs in southwest Minnesota.

"It's important to care for all our brothers and sisters in Christ and especially the most vulnerable persons in our society," Paladie said. "I hope that people will come with not only a new awareness of the homelessness problems in our area, but that they will walk out with a new appreciation for everything in their lives."