This past Saturday night/Sunday morning we hosted our 5th annual Cardboard City event to benefit New Horizons for New Hampshire. About 100 students gave up their Saturday night and their comfortable beds to sleep in cardboard boxed on the front lawn of our school. Of course this past weekend was the coldest night of the year with temperatures dropping to the high 20's! All told, the students raised just under $4,000 ($3,892 to be exact) to help the good people at New Horizons.
Students began arriving on Saturday night at 6pm and set up their homes for the night. We moved into the gym at 8pm for Mass celebrated by our chaplain, Fr. Richard Dion. In his homily, Fr. Richard talked about how he loves horror movies, especially the 1999 film "The Blair Witch Project." The movie involves a group of filmmakers who get lost in the woods and are never seen again. However, their cameras were found and the film is the footage they shot, including some scenes of strange noises. Fr. Richard said their reactions of "Did you hear that?" "What was that sound?" are things the homeless face every night. In a sense, they live through their own horror movie every single night. He thanked the students for their willingness to walk in their shoes for one night and for the mercy they are showing.
After Mass, my friend Dan Puopolo brought in 25 extra large pizzas as a way to thank the students for their witness. The pizzas were gone in about 5 seconds, I was able to get my paws on one slice! We then watched the Will Smith movie "The Pursuit of Happyness", a true story of a man and his son who are temporarily homeless in San Francisco. We moved outside around 11:30pm. Some students actually slept, but most stayed up and talked and some moved into the gym to stay warm. I urged the students to come inside if it got too cold as the temperatures were going to be record lows. I said on nights like this, even the homeless go inside.
We started cleaning up around 6am and recycled all of the cardboard into an enormous dumpster we got and most of the students were on their way home by 7am.
I am beyond grateful to the students who witnessed and raised funds for New Horizons. I am going to take a group of participants to New Horizons this week to present the check and to get a tour to see who they helped.
As is our custom after an event like this, our morning prayer came from Matthew 25:
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’