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South Williamsport, PA
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American Rescue Workers Box City Highlights Homelessness This Weekend

Homelessness is one of America’s greatest and most serious of social problems and to shine a spotlight on this problem the local American Rescue Workers organization will be holding a “Box City” this weekend, November 3 and 4. November is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month; it is a good time to get involved with

Homelessness is one of America’s greatest and most serious of social problems and to shine a spotlight on this problem the local American Rescue Workers organization will be holding a “Box City” this weekend, November 3 and 4.

November is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month; it is a good time to get involved with groups that work hard to meet the needs of the homeless and hungry in our community. The Community Needs Assessment of Lycoming County revealed that the problem of homelessness had been exacerbated since 2010, and from year to year continues to intensify the need for emergency shelter. For nearly 85 years American Rescue Workers (ARW) has worked hard to meet the evolving needs of the hungry and homeless, which included the addition of Saving Grace Shelter in February of 2011. Saving Grace is an emergency family shelter for men women and children of Lycoming County. The 24 beds available at Saving Grace contribute to the 70 beds available through the American Rescue Workers’ shelter programs. In order to raise awareness and funding for homelessness prevention, an annual fundraising event, Box City, was started specifically in support of Saving Grace Family Shelter in 2013. This fundraiser is a necessary means for the American Rescue Workers to continue the services and programs that are offered through this life-saving family shelter. It costs ARW $16 per person, per day, to shelter, feed, clothe, and care for the Lycoming County residents who are guests of Saving Grace Shelter.

The Williamsport area has, what is often referred to as a “hidden homeless”, problem. But, don’t let the “hidden” part fool you. The homelessness issue in the city is alive and very serious.

According to Mike Kane the ARW’s Director of Shelters, “Homelessness is a growing issue here in Lycoming County, and unfortunately, a lot of people don’t even know that homelessness exists here — let alone that it’s a major issue. So far this year, Saving Grace has provided shelter and meals to 315 adults and 37 children who otherwise would have been faced with homelessness.”

The Box City will take place at Lycoming College’s Intramural Field (the gated field just off of Market Street in Williamsport) this Friday and Saturday, starting Friday, November 3 at 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. on Saturday, November 4. A limited supply of materials to create cardboard box shelters will be provided as well as food and beverages, a fire, warming tent, and entertainment on Friday evening. A 15-minute presentation highlighting facts about homelessness will transition the evening into a time of solidarity with the homeless — with participants sleeping in their cardboard box structures. This year’s goal is to raise $20,000 for Saving Grace Shelter, as well as funding for Family Promise of Lycoming County, a sheltering program for homeless families in transition. The registration fee for Box City is $20 per person or $10 per person in groups of five or more.

Some of the Box City participants return year after year in order to raise awareness and money for the event. Paul Nyman said, “This is my 5th year sleeping out for Box City and each year I find this event to be an eye-opening experience. Saving Grace is an invaluable resource to this county and we all ought to be supporting this ministry of ARW.”

“Box City started five years ago because we were in desperate need of additional funding for Saving Grace. The goal of the event is to raise money, and more importantly awareness, for the homelessness problem here. When you’re not exposed to a problem, then you may not even be aware that there is one, so our goal is to teach the community about the realities of homelessness. Please consider joining us for the night, or just the evening, to learn how you can come be a part of the solution,” said Dawn Astin, Business Administrator for the ARW.

The American Rescue Workers is a faith-based, nonprofit organization giving spiritual and material aid to those in need, with a goal of hunger and homelessness prevention. For more information about the ARW programs or services or to make a gift to support their mission, visit http://www.arwwilliamsport.org.

For further information and forms for registration for this event, sponsorship, and event flyers visit http://www.arwwilliamsport.org/boxcity or contact American Rescue Workers at 570-323-8401.

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