Family Promise officials concluded their fourth annual Box City fundraising event at Bridgeport Park in Valencia Sunday morning.
“We’re estimating that more than 400 people came to the event,” said Laurie Ender, Family Promise SCV president. “We know that we raised over 40,000 dollars. The money goes to program expenses to help homeless families.”
Hundreds gather every year to help raise money for Family Promise’s programs that help homeless families get back on their feet by teaching them how to achieve self-sufficiency.
“This was the largest turn out we have ever had and we’re real happy about the turnout of this event,” said Gary Choppe, vice president of Family Promise’s board and the event’s chair. “There were Girl Scouts, youth groups, and football teams that came to Box City.”
Family Promise operates a Day Center in the Santa Clarita Valley, where families can do laundry, shower and search for employment while their children are at school. At night, the families are sent to host churches and places of worship throughout the valley, where they receive meals, support from volunteers and a place to sleep.
“We started at 3 p.m. on Saturday and we had live music all afternoon. We gave out raffle prizes to participants,” Ender said. “Box City residents spent a lot of time building and decorating boxes and there was a contest for the best one. The YMCA had games and activities. Everyone received a sack dinner of a sandwich, fruits, and chips.”
Various local musicians and speakers entertained the fundraisers while they decorated their box houses.
“Marsha McLean presented a key to the city to person who raised the most money,” Ender said. “My son, Davis became the mayor this year.”
Participants who raised $100 recieved a Box City T-shirt.
“We had great weather. It was a little cold, but that was the idea, to simulate the experience of being homeless,” Choppe said. “We had some great inspirational musicians and speakers as well as one of our families that graduated. That was tear-jerking.”
Participants were given two brown-bag meals, one in the evening and one in the morning.
“My favorite part was the candle-lighting ceremony,” Choppe said. “I was on stage taking pictures and got to see hundreds of candles in the darkness. It was amazing to see all these people come together for this one cause.”
The candlelight ceremony’s purpose was to show the homeless families that they have support from the Santa Clarita Valley community, Ender said.
“The whole community comes together for this cause,” Ender said. “It doesn’t matter what school, church, synagogue, Girl Scout troop, or background the participants came from, they’re all here for one cause.”
Allison Pari contributed to this story.