BRANDON — Hundreds of Brandon area residents will experience a night of voluntary homelessness, rain or shine, Saturday, April 5, at the first annual Family Promise Box Car City on the Novemberfest field at Nativity Catholic Church, 705 E. Brandon Blvd.
Individuals, families, youth groups, Scouts and others will bring their own boxes to sleep in — or they may sleep in their cars, as homeless people sometimes do — from 3 p.m. Saturday, April 5, to 7 a.m. Sunday, April 6.
Anyone may attend, whether or not they are affiliated with a church or organization, said Mike Bass, a Family Promise volunteer from First United Methodist Church of Brandon.
The experience “is designed to raise funds and awareness to help homeless children and their families in our community achieve sustainable housing,” said Bass.
A sack dinner will be provided. From 7 to 9 p.m. local bands will perform, and then it’s lights out at 10 p.m.
Prizes will be given for the most money raised, best-decorated car and most creative box.
There will be access to bathrooms and a medical tent. Uniformed law enforcement personnel will patrol the grounds throughout the event.
The cost to participate is $20 each for people sleeping in a box, $15 per person for youth groups of 10 or more and $50 per car for people sleeping in their cars. Sponsorships of $100 per camper are desired but not required. A $25 early exit charge will result from leaving the event before 6 a.m.
Registration forms are available online in advance or at the site the day of the event.
A $5 donation is suggested for people who want to hear the bands but not spend the night, and food and drink will be available for purchase.
Fees will benefit Family Promise of Greater Brandon, a nonprofit that helps local homeless children and families “achieve lasting independence and escape the cycle of poverty,” said Bass.
Send news of community interest to Barbara Routen at Neighbors@tampabay.rr.com