While Monmouth County is considered one of the more affluent counties of the Garden State, the issue of family homelessness remains a very real problem here and throughout the area. Beginning on the evening of Friday, October 15, a local place of worship will serve as host location for an interactive “friend and fund raiser” event designed to raise awareness of this often little-discussed cause — by giving participants the opportunity to experience spending the night living inside a cardboard box.
Sponsored by the nonprofit Family Promise of Monmouth County, the area’s only emergency shelter for families — and presented “rain or shine” on the grounds of Monmouth Church of Christ (312 Hance Avenue in Tinton Falls) — the eighth annual fundraiser begins at 5 p.m., and offers participants an opportunity to raise a minimum of $100 in pledges and contributions, by sleeping overnight as a resident of “Cardboard Box City.”
Participants at the fundraiser will include middle and high school students, faith-based youth groups, 4-H and Scouting groups, as well as congregations of all denominations. Activities for the evening include setting up a residence to withstand weather, a soup and bread line for dinner, guest speakers, live music, and kids activities.
Family Promise will award prizes for participants who raise the most money and present the most creative dwelling (participants must supply their own box; recommended are large appliance cartons which can be obtained from electronics/ appliance or department stores). The event concludes the following morning on Saturday, September 16 with a simple breakfast at 6:00 a.m., followed by the dismantling of the box city and recycling of the boxes.
The event raised more than $30,000 during its October 2016 effort, and funds raised in 2017 will help with the organization’s new Day Center project. The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) has granted Building 501 on the old Fort Monmouth property to Family Promise of Monmouth County. Valued at approximately $500,000, this 2,800 square foot facility will serve as their new Day Center, providing a long term solution as FMERA has granted a 99 year land/building lease.
The cost to maintain this building is lower than Family Promise’s current rental costs in Aberdeen. The overall target for their Building 501 Fund Raising Campaign is $125,000. Renovations begin this month, with an opening date announced shortly.
The organizers welcome the participation of families, youth groups, scouting troops and interested individuals in the overnight event — including those who’d like to raise funds as “virtual residents” from the comfort of home — with sign-up and additional details available here.