WILMINGTON — If you see a bunch of boxes on the Clinton County Court House’s parking lot this weekend, it’s all a part of a 20-year tradition in the city.
The 20th annual Cardboard City, sponsored by the Wilmington AM Rotary Club, will again be giving participants an idea of what homelessness feels like and to raise awareness for the issue.
The event is also the Clinton County Homeless Shelter’s largest fundraiser of the year and will happen rain or shine. Registration starts at 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday. The event will last until 5 a.m. on Sunday.
“We encourage our participants to just bring basics like a pillow and a sleeping, no electronics,” said Denise Stryker, Executive Director at the Clinton County Homeless Shelter. “They can bring their phone but nothing fancy. Try to keep it low-key,”
Parents or guardians must accompany children under 12, and a chaperone for each group must be awake at all times. No alcohol or drugs are permitted on the premises.
Stryker advises those spending the night to wear warm clothing and she asks for non-perishable food item donations for the shelter. Free food and drinks will be provided until 11 p.m. and entertainment will be provided until midnight, after which participants are expected to retire to their respective boxes for the remainder of the event.
This year, participants are allowed to build their structures in advance if they wish to, as long as it fits within their assigned space. Cardboard will be provided if participants don’t bring their own.
Stryker wants to invite people out even if they aren’t staying the night — particularly at 7 p.m. for the Hands Together for Homeless.
“We’re forming a human chain around the courthouse to show the support our county has toward the problem of homelessness,” said Stryker.
There will be plenty of activities and a movie showing — this year they’re showing the 1988 made-for-TV movie “God Bless the Child” starring Mare Winningham, which tells of a single mother becoming homeless, losing her job and trying to survive with her daughter.
The evening will also feature speakers including city and county officials, and a formerly homeless single mother who had been through the Clinton County Homeless Shelter and now lives on her own with her two sons.
Sigrid Solomon of the AM Rotary Club said that donations have already started to come in from various groups and individuals. The Rotary Club has also sponsored a challenge for the Clinton County school districts to see who can raise the most.
Stryker says that one day she hopes the event has a sponsor which will match the donations made that night. She also hopes to have enough volunteers at their donation center to keep it open every day.
Solomon described a low-income year as $12,000 raised and $20,000-plus raised as a high-income year.
“The funds are much needed,” said Stryker. “Our numbers are not going down. We’re seeing more than 200 people every year – men, women, and children. The expenses don’t go down and our main source of income is donations.”
If anyone wishes to donate or learn how to participate at Cardboard City, contact Denise Stryker at 937-382-6272.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574