Young Students Spend Night in a Cardboard Box

Coaster Photo – Twelve-year-old Alex Burke and Garrett Laffler, 14, try to figure out how to set up a cardboard shelter to house about 30 young people at St. Anselm’s Catholic Church in Tinton Falls last Friday night.

Living in a cardboard box overnight is not on everyone’s bucket list- but a group of area teenagers did exactly that last week to raise awareness about homeless issues.

“I just we will figure it out as we set up. We will find a way to create a community while crammed in boxes,” 12-year-old Alex Burke said in the St. Anselm’s Church parking lot last Friday night.

She and about 30 other young people set up a cardboard-box camp to spend the night from Friday into Saturday morning. The “cardboard box city” project event, part of the church’s junior youth group, seeks to raise awareness about the homeless issue and encourage more public involvement.

Fran Burke, coordinator of youth activities at the church, on Wayside Road in Tinton Falls, said that most participants are from the Ocean Township Middle School. She said the event also includes three speakers on homeless issues.

“We have a discussion of the homeless issue – an issue that is not easily solved.”  We want to create an awareness of what homelessness it is like and how to help out with local problems.

Burke’s daughter, Alex, who is in the seventh grade, said she was not quite sure how the young people were going to proceed to put their cardboard shelters together. She said staying in a cardboard shelter makes her, and others participating in the event, more aware of what it is like to be homeless.

“I am just hoping it is not cold tonight. I do worry about the weather. This makes me appreciate what I have at home and also understand what some people don’t have,” she said.

Fourteen-year-old Garrett Laffler, said he thinks there is not enough awareness being raised about homelessness and that this event helps bring it home.

“These people are out there and they need help,” he said.

Laffler said he also hopes for good weather over the night.

“But, if not, it makes me appreciate what the homeless go through- even more,” he said.

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