Box City returns to spread awareness about homelessness, support Family Promise

Having made a tipi last year, Dennis Ramirez added a drawbridge to his castle at this year's Box City. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

Solidarity was on display for the ninth Box City, hosted by Family Promise of Santa Clarita at Valencia Heritage Park, Saturday night.

Residents brought cardboard boxes with them, and slept under the stars wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags. The event is meant to spread awareness of and fundraising for the homeless in Santa Clarita.

As a village, people can decorate their boxes or set up structures. Toward the end of the night, awards are given for architecture or design, said Laurie Ender, president board of directors at Family Promise. Various music groups performed on an adjacent stage, including the Valencia High School choir, followed by a speech from a family that graduated from Family Promise’s program, Ender said.

“Box City carries us for a couple of months,” said Roché Vermaak, executive director of Family Promise. “January, February, March, April are the lean months, and this funding carries us. We are 365 days a year. We never close. We feed them every night, every morning. Our program is always open. And it means the staff is always on call.”

As participants for the last few year, the Ramirez family taped and painted their cardboard into a large castle, the tallest structure at the park.

“It’s more of an experience that I can share with my daughter, as well as elaborate to show awareness and help contribute,” said Dennis Ramirez, who was with his daughter Ireland and wife, Crystal.

With the turnout largely from young people, including the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Hart High School student body, Vermaak said he hopes those young people take something with them.

“Our philosophy is no child chooses to be homeless,” he said.

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