Box Car City Fundraiser Gives Participants Glimpse Of Homelessness

By Renee Hobbs

“Spend the night in a box?” As she laughed, Tina said, “I wish I had had a box to sleep in at night; the best I could ever do was get under awnings.”

That was her reply when she was told about the Third Annual Box Car City. Family Promise of Brandon (FPGB) is holding the event Saturday, April 2 from 2 p.m.-7 a.m. at Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon. Individuals can donate at least $25 to experience snoozing in a box for a night on the grounds of the church.

Tina was homeless six years ago and now holds two jobs and has a roof over her head. “There is a story to be told and I want it told,” Tina said. She was speaking about the number of homeless people in our own backyard.

Executive Director of FPGB Edwina Reddick said, “Box Car City was started to raise awareness of what it is like to have no safe place to sleep, and now FPGB and its partner churches provide a safe and comfortable place for homeless families.”

FPGB opened its doors May 2014 and since then has served almost a hundred people, “Eighty percent of which were children,” said Reddick. “This program brings together area congregations to provide temporary homes, and facilities to provide space during the day for case management. There are eleven host churches that provide meals and overnight accommodations for a week at a time and then the family will move to another church and this continues for 90 days. The families will then participate in a case management program for one year. Kevin has been sleeping on the streets since he lost everything during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where he was a cab driver. Kevin says he receives money from the government but, ‘it’s not enough to pay for housing.’”

FPGB gets no government support and relies on donations of individuals and businesses. Visit www.familypromiseofgreaterbrandon.org.