Youth-led event fights homelessnessThe exterior of a makeshift, cardboard hut outside First Lutheran Church in Fargo bears a smiley face, hand prints and the words “We’re his hands and feet.”
The exterior of a makeshift, cardboard hut outside First Lutheran Church in Fargo bears a smiley face, hand prints and the words “We’re his hands and feet.”
Another carries the phrase “When in doubt pray.” Yet another reads, “Hold up, wait a minute put a little love in it!”
In fact an entire community of temporary structures was constructed on the lawn of First Lutheran, one of 20 host sites for the 2009 Homeless and Hungry event. Homeless and Hungry is a youth-led event that raises awareness as well as funds and donations to fight homelessness in the area.
In addition to spending the night outdoors in a cardboard box, participants who are physically able are asked to fast during the event. The effort began at noon on Saturday and concludes this evening.
Erik Hatch, director of youth ministries at First Lutheran Church in Fargo and director of Homeless and Hungry, put the total number of participants at about 750, compared to last year’s approximately 600.
“The whole point is when you learn to walk a mile in the shoes of somebody who lives in poverty, your heart is softened and your eyes are opened,” Hatch said. “I think we have things like SUVs and picket fences that keep us separated from the world that really needs us.”
Among the participants was Fargo South senior Maddi Christensen. She said that it seems like it would be much harder to go for 30 hours without eating than it is. But she said that when “you think about the cause you’re doing it for, it makes it a lot more worthwhile.”
Participants faced more than just hunger as the forecast called for temperatures to fall to 39 degrees Saturday night.
Christensen said they tried to make the boxes as warm as possible, but said, “they are just boxes.”
Participants of Homeless and Hungry are asked to raise at least $365 each, and during the effort, they go through the community soliciting donations.
Since its inception in 2006, organizers say the event has raised $350,000. The goal for this year is $250,000. They also hope to collect 25,000 pounds of food.
Natalie Moorhouse, 17, was stationed at Hope Lutheran Church’s South Campus on Saturday evening. Moorhouse, a Fargo North student, also took part in Homeless and Hungry last year, and the event raised her own awareness of the number of homeless in the community.
“Because,” she said, “you don’t really think about that when you’re sitting on your couch watching TV in your warm house.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734