This past weekend, more than 80 Cathedral Prep students braved the harsh conditions and spent the night in homemade villages made from cardboard boxes in order to raise awareness for the growing problem of homelessness that is sweeping our nation, and even our very own Erie, Pa.
The students set up their little villages along West 9th Street by the main entrance in the lawn at around 3 p.m. on Saturday and took them down around 2 p.m. the next day. Father Jason Feigh, the campus minister at Cathedral Prep, organized this second annual box village, which proved to be much more successful than last year’s when rain forced the students to sleep inside. Luckily, the weather was on their side this year and the only troubles they faced were cold temperatures, which proved no challenge to most of the students in their fortified huts.
A key part of the box village experience was forcing the students to actually live as if they were homeless. The homeless don’t have a home, so they had to sleep in boxes. The homeless don’t usually have food, so they had to rely on donations from the public. And the homeless don’t usually have money, so they had to panhandle to raise money, which was then donated to the Emmaus Soup Kitchen.
Since Cathedral Prep was built on the foundation of religion, many opportunities were set up along the way of box village in order to encourage faith. Mass was served at midnight outside in the cold, and adoration went along throughout the night in the Cathedral Prep Hall of Fame hallway. In the end, this year’s box village was a huge success and raised a lot of money for a good cause. The Cathedral Prep students who participated learned a great lesson this weekend: never take anything for granted because living with nothing is a difficult task. So next time you walk past a homeless person, especially in these winter months, be generous to them as they may be struggling to make it from day to day.