A box has no granite counter tops, no hardwood floor. It has no stainless steel appliances, no custom shutters and certainly no swimming pool. While amenities beyond its four cardboard flaps may be sparse, a box is, for many, home.
Over 300 Santa Clarita residents flocked to Heritage Park on Saturday to take part in the eighth annual Box City fundraising event.
The event, hosted by local charity Family Promise, aimed to simulate the conditions which the valley’s homeless population faces by forcing participants to spend the night outdoors, on one of the park’s vast soccer fields, with only a cardboard box to use as shelter.
“The idea behind the event is to have people bring boxes or tents in order to simulate what it is like if you are homeless and that was the only place you had to stay,” said Family Promise Board President Laurie Ender.
The event, according to Ender, is an opportunity for family bonding and fun while still drawing awareness for an important cause.
“There’s live music, games, and a lot of fun,” she said.
For many participants, the sheets of cardboard were canvasses for unique artwork and building blocks for architectural achievements.
Hoping to win a prize from the judges, families painted their boxes to resemble castles, legos and camouflage, and assembled them into pirate ships, rockets, and teepees.
The marquee prize of the night was the announcement of the next ‘mayor’ of Box City. The title was bestowed by Santa Clarita mayor Cameron Smyth onto the participant who raised the most money for the homeless.
Even those who did not win a prize, however, still benefited the community at large.
“Most people don’t realize how many homeless children and families there are in Santa Clarita,” Ender said. “[Box City] is a great way to reach people and communicate with them.”
Hart High School ASB saw it as their civic duty to contribute to the fundraiser.
“I always thought we could do more philanthropy,” said ASB member Bentley Freeman. “Community outreach is going to be a big part of Hart ASB and we’re trying to reach out to the community.”
Hart ASB was among countless other organizations that came out to volunteer at the fundraiser.
Those who missed Box City, said Ender, can still play a vital role in working to end homelessness in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“We always have room for volunteers, we’re always looking for help,” she said.