I Spent the Night in the Tardis!
I was originally going to ‘Live Tweet’ the event, but Twitter and my phone weren’t getting along so well. So, I facebooked instead.
My family in tow, we set up ‘camp’ and settled in for the afternoon. From the moment I committed to doing this, my son was worried that I’d get lonely. I flew solo this year because I didn’t know how my son would react to having to sleep outside in a box and didn’t want him having a 3AM freak-out forcing us to leave. So, the solution to that problem, was that he wanted his stuffed monkey ‘Big Monkey’ to spend the night with me. Oh, and Big Monkey wanted his own box too. So, he helped me design and build ‘Big Monkey’s Tree Box’.
(He didn’t break his leg, in case you were wondering. He scraped it trying to climb a massive tree.)
Welcome to BoxCarCity 2014!
Everyone who participated, was judged on their decorating skills. I won the ‘job’ of Mayor of Box Car City! They presented me with the key to the city…which didn’t open a darn thing. I got a hat, a sash, a medal, and (as my sons called it) a Piston Cup!
There were some bands playing, but we didn’t really hang out by the stage. The boys danced to the music for awhile, and that was fun to watch. They had game area set up, but the boys were more content with running around in the wide open field in front of our ‘homestead’.
To help us get the feel for what really happens in a homeless shelter and the like, we were given the exact same things homeless people get when they show up. I’m not going to lie, dinner was kind of nasty. There was a sandwich made with cheap sandwich meat and American cheese (which really isn’t cheese). We got a packet of Melba Toast and oyster crackers. The highlight of the meal was a Rice Krispie bar and an old candy cane. And to wash it down, a nice room temperature bottle of water.
My oldest son, looked at the contents of the bag and said, “Daddy. Where is the healthy food?” More specifically, he wanted to know where the fruit was.
I had to explain that homeless people get what people donate. And, sadly, most people don’t donate super healthy food and fruit because it’s expensive. I watched as he mulled it over in his head. He’s just now coming to grips with the fact that there are people in the world who don’t have homes, food, clean water, clothes or toys.
And Bed Time:
It was hot, humid, and very buggy. (Hey, it’s Florida!) I got my wife to make a run to the store to get some Industrial Strength Off…because I was pretty sure they’d frown on me pulling out a flamethrower. And also a cold soda pop. Finally, things cooled off and I managed to steal (log in) to some free wifi. I wanted to get some writing done, but instead listened to some music before heading off to sleep. The bands were still playing when I finally holed up for the night.
If that’s what you want to call it…
This event was similar to many events that went on around the country at the same time. The main organization is called “Family Promise” and they help local homeless families get back on their feet. This event helped raise money for computers so the families could use them to stay in contact with friends and family members, but also to search for jobs, apply for said jobs, and navigate the murky waters of our governmental help system to see what if any programs they might be eligible for. Family Promise gives people an address to put on an application that isn’t a PO Box (which won’t work for some applications anyway).
Without an address, you can’t get a driver’s license or government ID, or a job. (You know the kind I’m talking about. Not the day labor type, but a REAL job.) In fact, there are several companies now that won’t accept any applications that aren’t done online. (Starbucks is one.) i
This organization fills so many needs that I couldn’t imagine NOT helping them out. Mostly, because of the kids. Children should NEVER be homeless. EVER. And, I’m doing what I can to lower those numbers. (And those numbers might surprise you.) Here’s a graphic about homeless children that shocked the hell out of me: