They were there to raise funds to assist those who are homeless in the community. The students and about 50 volunteers and parents spent the night in their own cardboard shelters, constructed underneath the west-side stadium seating area to avoid the wet and cold conditions on the field.
This was the second annual Cardboard City event held at Turner Stadium. In previous years, similar, but smaller, events were conducted throughout the area at various churches coordinated through Humble Area Assistance Ministries and Family Promise of Lake Houston. Students were challenged to seek sponsorship donations from friends and family members. The more money they raised, the more cardboard they received to construct their cardboard shelters. Once constructed, the shelters were judged and prizes in various categories were awarded.
Students heard testimonies from local families who have struggled with homelessness. They participated in games and activities to help them understand what homelessness is like in their community. They had the opportunity to experience what it is like to go through a soup kitchen line to receive their bagged dinners.
Other activities included a live concert by two bands, “No Rehearsal” and “ourselves + others.” A video about homeless teens was shown and a midnight snack was provided before lights went out at midnight. In the morning, the event ended with the students dismantling Cardboard City, cleaning up and getting a breakfast to go at 6:30 a.m.
Kap McWhorter, the event coordinator who is also a social action teacher and the district service learning coordinator, explained that the goal is to reframe the conversation about homelessness and to empower students to make a difference.
“The whole point of Cardboard City is to try to raise funds and awareness about the struggles homeless families are facing right here in our neighborhoods. We have 973 students in Humble ISD alone who have been identified as homeless, and we think we could have as many as three times that many who are struggling with housing insecurity every year,” McWhorter said.
The students were all excited. One group explained that they were able to donate $ 2,000. One student said, “My mom posted on Facebook and our friends and family all sent in donations.”
McWhorter summed up the enthusiasm by the students for the event.
“These kids blow me away. We set the table for them. We give them an opportunity to respond and really introduce them to the needy and they will change everything,” he said.
Overall the event raised more than $12,200. All proceeds from the event will benefit homeless families through the work of Family Promise of Lake Houston and Humble Area Assistance Ministries.