Staff writer reflects on Box Village experience


Alicia Gonzalez, Staff Writer

Cathedral Prep’s 10th annual Box Village was held Monday, Nov. 21 beginning at 6 p.m. along the 9th St. entrance of the school. It was run by school chaplain Fr. Jason Feigh and campus minister Mrs. Emily Grenci along with other administrators and faculty.

It was our first time attending for fellow staff writer and tent roommate Ellen Dieteman and I. Overall I found it quite special, and I do not regret trying it out. While some are unwilling to participate, it is a unique experience worthy of being tried.

Senior Adam Gavio participated for the first time.

“I would do Box Village again if I could,” Adam said. “It really taught me to sympathize for the homeless people that I see in the city every morning, lying on the ground covered in a blanket or two.”

Some low points of the experience welcomed us early on. The night began by snow falling on our tent. We survived unscathed, but had to relocate to a place farther away from the building so an avalanche of sorts would not happen again.

Twelth-grader Nevaeha Hudson had a similar experience.

“Putting up the tent was hard and so was the cold, but it was rewarding,” Nevaeha said.

After being warned of the difficulties we would face, we took the first rotation to collect donations by the street. Advocating for a good cause while bonding with my peers was a thrilling experience. Holding up signs enthusiastically, the adrenaline of raising a few dollars, and meeting new people along the way was enjoyable.

Next was time in the chapel. I found it humbling and peaceful during adoration. After having just been outside it was nice to warm up for a bit and to soak in the night to come. At this point realization set in: it was going to be a long night. Through prayer, I believe many participants including myself were able to find strength and guidance.

There was also an opportunity to perform another act of service. All were invited to make cards to those in nursing homes, wishing them happiness and more for the holiday season. It was soothing to be able to give back to the community at multiple points throughout the night.

Participants also celebrated in midnight mass. Led by Fr. Jason, we were once again reminded of the seriousness of the night and the reality that others face. Through Mass, we were preparing to endure the cold.

All took a vow of silence until morning, symbolizing the loneliness many homeless or disadvantaged go through. Not being able to communicate or share a conversation was hard since it is the main way people interact and connect. It was a thoughtful method to truly live as others live.

Going to school afterwards was also harsh. It allowed me to appreciate the gifts and luxuries I have been blessed with. Villagers got little to no sleep, so completing a full day’s work was challenging. The brief moments of discomfort felt for a day were worth it.

In times of difficulty throughout the night, I became closer to my classmates, myself, God, and the community. The self-sacrifice it took gave greater meaning to the cause of raising money for Emmaus Soup Kitchen.

I found that putting others first and steeping outside of one’s comfort, could be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. My experience compels me to urge those who have not experienced Box Village to participate next year if possible and to keep in mind the community we are a part of.