The Kids in a Box fundraiser — in its 13th year of benefitting McHenry House Family Shelter — will have children spend from Friday evening through Saturday morning in cardboard shelters on the St. Bernard’s Catholic School grounds.
But support has been tepid so far this year, according to event co-chair Susan Jessee.
As of Monday, Sept. 10, with only one week left to register, 94 youths had signed up, well short of Jessee’s goal of 300.
The 2011 Kids In a Box had 114 participants, and numbers have dwindled in recent years, according to the organizers.
“We just aren’t getting a lot of people in,” Jessee said. “I’m not sure if it is a sign of the economy or just a sign of the times.”
Jessee said the group would like to at least double the number of last year’s participants, mostly middle and high school-age kids. She added there have been entire families that have camped out in the past.
Each participant promises to raise a minimum of $50 during his or her overnight stay in a decorated cardboard box. Organizers hope to raise $30,000 at this year’s event for McHenry House, which provides temporary housing, along with programs to families who are suddenly homeless or need help to recover their ability to provide a home for their families.
However, Jessee said with the low number of children signed up so far, the goal is looking hard to reach.
Jessee said Kids in a Box has contacted all the youth groups, organizations and schools its directors can think of as they try to recruit more kids.
Although the kids spend just one night outdoors in their boxes, Jessee said it still gives kids a good lesson about the plight of homeless families in Tracy.
“If you are in a box by yourself, it is shocking. It is unnerving to spend the night by yourself — it gives you a better appreciation of what homeless people go through,” Jessee said. “It brings an awareness to the kids and families what the McHenry House provides.”
Jessee said the invitation is open to everybody.
“Any amount is helpful — we would love to fill that yard with kids, and anyone can come and join us,” she said.
The night will feature entertainment from dance troupes, martial arts demonstrations, a DJ with music and a movie in the school gym. At 11 p.m., it is lights out for the cardboard box campers.
Jesses said that the gates of the school yard will stay open to 10 p.m. for campers coming back from the high school football game, who can drop off boxes at the school by 4 p.m.
The deadline to sign up for the fundraiser is Wednesday, Sept. 19. Application forms are available online at www.mchenryhousetracy.org/McHenry_House/Kids_in_a_Box.html.
The completed application form and money must be turned into the McHenry House Family Shelter, 757 A St., before the event.
At a glance
WHAT: Kids in a Box fundraiser for McHenry House Family Shelter
WHEN: 4 p.m. Sept. 21 to 10 a.m. Sept. 22
WHERE: St. Bernard’s Catholic School, 165 W. Eaton Ave.