Using cardboard boxes to promote social justice


Photo by Alan M. Dumoff

cardboardtent-webChristian Wahl peers out of the cardboard shelter on the grounds of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Sicklerville. The parish Cardboard City project, held Oct. 22-24, helped young people learn about the plight of the homeless.

St. Charles Borromeo, Sicklerville, youth group members experienced what it was like to be homeless last weekend, as they participated in the parish’s Cardboard City from Friday, Oct. 22-Sunday, Oct. 24.

Some 20 sixth, seventh and eighth graders constructed make-shift houses out of cardboard boxes to sleep in the parish prayer garden and realize the hard surfaces the homeless are subject to. (The parish put out a request to parishioners for boxes that once held refrigerators or other large appliances.)

The three days were a time for the youth to understand that God calls them to “love the unloved, the less fortunate, no matter what their circumstances are,” said Don Burton, St. Charles youth minister.

In addition to sleeping outside, the youth also made casseroles for the local community; and went to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Camden to donate blankets and comforters, and sort clothes that will be given to the homeless.

While in Camden, the youth spoke with a woman who, after becoming addicted to painkillers, has lost her children and her home, and lives on the streets.

Lawrence Thornton, once homeless but now a speaker on helping the less fortunate, gave a presentation on how to best support the individuals in need.

The weekend was a “learning experience, a bonding experience,” Burton said. “You could feel the Holy Spirit.” he added, “The youth will never forget this weekend.”