Johnstown Independent

Box City lets 4-H'ers try homelessness, gather funds, food

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Caleb Bemiller and Annie Haefs call out to passing motorists as they raise money during the All Creatures 4-H Club's Box City event last year.
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Northridge High School senior Kaitlin Piper will detach from the world as she knows it.

"We won't have any electronics and, depending on how cold it is, no pillows or blankets," she said. "It really makes you appreciate what you have when you get home. We have more respect for what we have and what our parents do for us."

Members of Johnstown All Creatures 4-H Club will spend the night Friday, May 9, in cardboard boxes or under a tarp in an effort to raise money and collect nonperishable items for the Johnstown-Northridge Food Pantry.

More than 30 students from Northridge and Johnstown schools will set up camp at Bigelow Park in the center of town and begin collecting donations at 6 p.m. and continue until late Friday evening. Collections will resume early Saturday morning and continue until about 10 a.m.

This is the fifth year for the club's "Box City" event.

"We've tried to step up every year and increase what we've done in previous years," club adviser Tom DeLoss said. "Last year, we fell short (of our goal) on food but made more money. We're doing a lot of work to try and get the word out early. Hopefully, we will have a good turnout."

Last year's event raised more than $2,100 and nearly 800 food items. The goal is to raise 1,500 food items.

Participants range in age from 6 to 18. The youngest members -- the Cloverbuds -- will not spend the night.

Despite the primitive conditions, the club members enjoy the experience, DeLoss said.

"I think 4-H kids have a different mindset," he said. "They don't take things for granted, but I don't think any of them would want to do it (sleep in a cardboard box) for more than a day. They do appreciate what they have, but this lets them get a chance to see just how tough some people have it."

One of the banners that will hang on the park gazebo will pay tribute to Ruth Krumm, the founder and coordinator of the food pantry who died March 2 from injuries she sustained in a vehicle crash. She was 92.

Krumm opened the food pantry more than two decades ago. Located at the Johnstown Independent Church, 7397 Johnstown-Alexandria Road, it serves about 175 needy families annually.

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