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Sixty-five young people and their leaders braved cold winds and snow, sleeping in cardboard boxes in the parking lot of Maranatha Christian Reformed Church in Cambridge, Ontario, to raise awareness of homelessness and donations for a local food bank.

Several local media outlets covered the event, which raised awareness of homelessness.

Youth from Maranatha and other local churches built shelters from cardboard and packing tape, and then moved into them for the night.

Mercedes Aldridge, 17, said, “It would be really hard [to do this every night]—we’ve already had difficulties—it can be cold, rainy. Already our hands are cold, and it’s pretty nice out! I hope we can help people realize it’s not exciting, it’s not fun for people who have to live like this.”

Through the event, now in its third year, organizers Curtis DeGraaf and Dina Zomer hope to make a difference in the lives of both participants and people in the city who are homeless or hungry.

“It can get pretty intense,” said Zomer. “The first year, the temperature dipped below -30 C[-22 F].” Participants may go into the church if they need to, and a ‘fire watch’ of volunteers wakes up participants hourly to make sure they are okay. DeGraaf noted, “We encourage them to be tough, but we don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Bobby Melehes, 14, of Forward Baptist Church, was looking forward to the night. “It’s just 0 C [32 F],” he said, “I just really hope this raises awareness. A lot of people don’t know how many are homeless. Now that we’re doing this, and the media are out, I hope more people do it next year, and we can get even more for the food bank.”

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