They did it to draw attention to the church’s responsibility toward the homeless, hungry and the orphaned.
“To ask these kids to do this at the beginning of their spring break is a great sacrifice,” senior pastor Jason Grissom said.
The evening began with instruction and prayer. Jimmie Hale Mission representative Wes Parkhurst addressed the students, sharing the plight of the homeless and the ministries of the mission.
Grissom said there are 1.4 million homeless teens in America. Globally, 25,000 children starve to death daily and many struggle to live on $2 a day.
The purpose of the exercise, Grissom said, is to expose the students to the reality of the need and to emphasize the student’s responsibility to the homeless and hungry.
“Most students don’t comprehend what people in the world face,” Grissom said. “Most go to a cupboard with too much food to choose from and complain they can’t find anything to eat.”
Grissom said the homeless are exposed to bad weather and must face health issues, food shortages, drugs and physical abuse.
He said having the students spend time in a “cardboard city” will help create sympathy for those living in that situation.
Each student spent $10 to buy the cardboard, duct tape, box cutter and a coat or blanket for their makeshift living quarters. Grissom said it was interesting to watch the kids learn “street smarts.” They learned to pool their resources to make their materials go further and work together constructing their shelters.
Exposure to the elements was highlighted when an early Saturday morning wind and rain storm chased them from their cardboard boxes and into the family life shelter.
Grissom said the cardboard houses began to leak and eventually most collapsed.
Cassie and Bailey are friends who shared their cardboard house experience. Both attend Eureka and said they wanted to participate because they thought it might be fun.
While in the box, Cassie and Bailey said they felt sad and felt sorry for the homeless. Both agreed they learned that they have plenty compared to the homeless.
Later in the morning, the kids went home with host families to eat and shower and then return to the church. The students were divided into three groups. One group will develop a project for the homeless, one for the hungry and one for orphans.
Grissom said participating students had to bring $10 worth of canned goods to be donated to the Lincoln Food Pantry.
Each student also had to solicit sponsors to donate money for each hour they spent in the makeshift shelters. Funds raised will be given to support the Jimmie Hale Mission, Jessie’s Place, and the Lovelady Centers and an orphanage in Uganda.
Other churches, businesses, and civic leaders will be asked to join the church in next fall’s project, Grissom said.
Eureka Baptist Church is located on Talladega County 207.