Despite the rates of homelessness decreasing in New Jersey, the demographics reveal that thousands of people are living without adequate shelter. Informally known as “Cardboard Box City,” these forgotten residents often dwell in makeshift communities that co-exist alongside the same neighborhoods they can’t afford.
New Jersey-based organizations like the FISH Hospitality Program have remained proactive in their mission to raise awareness and funds to assist those in need. Serving the counties of Middlesex and Union, the program features shelter, meals, housing, employment, medical assistance, and other resources for homeless families and single women.
In addition, the program utilizes a network of 13 host congregations and 19 support congregations to provide additional help.
Trinity Presbyterian Church, a host congregation located in East Brunswick, has worked alongside the FISH program for a decade. The church established the Cardboard Box Steering Committee to collectively address homelessness by having fundraisers, hosting events, creating publicity, organizing volunteers, making signage, and raising awareness on social media.
Participants were given an opportunity April 30 and May 1 to experience the challenge of homelessness by spending a night in their own cardboard box. Hosted by Trinity Church, the event featured speakers, games, entertainment, a barbecue dinner, box decorating and judging, and a Sunday morning breakfast.
CBC had 19 volunteers assisting and 30 sleeping over. The churches in attendance were Trinity Presbyterian, Crossroads Fellowship (young adult ministry program of God With Us Church), and Dover United Methodist Church from Edison.
Fundraising totaled over $10,000 cash and numerous in-kind donations.