By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
We called community faith leader Michael McQueen “brave.”
He wonders if spending the night in a cardboard box tonight is “stupid.”
The inaugural Night In A Box event launches tonight outside the Denver Rescue Mission, where as many as 150 people may spend a night in a box to raise awareness and funding for homelessness. Participants are raising funds through personal sponsorships.
McQueen, the director of development for the new Providence Bible Church in Five Points, a ministry that specializes in helping the poor and the fatherless, spearheaded the Night In A Box initiative as a means to raise awareness on the topic.
“The intention of the event is really to raise awareness, and for the person who’s attending, to give them the realization of how short we’ve been coming as far as serving the poor,” said McQueen. “Most of us look at serving the poor as once a year, we give a $50 donation towards a food bank, or that type of thing — we want to educate people to show them how they can engage and ultimately become a lover of the poor through relationships.”
Event kicks off tonight
The event will kickoff tonight at 5 p.m. Through 11 p.m., events will take place, many of which will be hosted by homeless people themselves to give a real-world perspective on what it’s like to be homeless and how people can help, not only through financial donations, but through service as well.
The events with homeless citizens will include a question-and-answer session that is meant to shed light on the realities of being homeless, as well as a lecture on how people can become more actively engaged in helping the homeless.
The Night In A Box idea started with McQueen in Denver, but has since spread to Minnesota and North Carolina. He hopes it continues to catch on.
With temperatures expected to drop into the 20s tonight, life will not be fun for participants. But they will be assisted by a heated tent that should make things a bit more comfortable.
The event is even coming with its own detail of 12 security officers who are charged with keeping participants safe in the menacing neighborhood surrounding the Rescue Mission at Park Avenue and Lawrence Street.
McQueen believes no one should have to spend a night on the streets. He said there should be enough services out there so that anyone who needs shelter for a night should be able to find that shelter. He hopes events such as Night In A Box will further that cause.
Event organizers are confident that despite the cold weather, people are going to rally for the effort. McQueen believes many of the participants won’t even sleep in the heated tent, but will instead brave the frigid temperatures to experience what it is really like to be homeless on the streets.
“What we are finding is that those who are sleeping in a box are going through the exact same thought processes that the homeless tell us they experience,” he said. “How can I stay warm? What if it gets colder? How will I make sure I am safe? We are seeing the event accomplish much more than we anticipated — people are experiencing a brief taste of what it is like to be homeless and poor.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters