ELKHART — Despite a low turnout early in the day, the Elkhart County Homeless Coalition did their best to raise awareness for their cause with the annual Box City event Friday.
For over a decade, the 30 or so agencies that make up the Coalition have held the event on the Civic Plaza in downtown Elkhart to bring attention to the problem of homelessness in the county and collect goods to distribute to the county's homeless population.
Angie Wogoman of Guidance Ministries, who organized Box City, believed Friday's event, though more lightly attended than previous years, still did its part to raise awareness of the issue at hand.
The display was hard to miss for those driving down Main Street, as decorated cardboard boxes lined the curb on the east side of the road.
“They may not stop, but it definitely catches their attention,” Wogoman said.
Wogoman added that most people driving past probably know what is going on as they drive past, since the event has become an annual staple of the community. Her hope is that even if people do not take the time to visit the event, they are at least reminded they can help.
Another objective of the event is to recruit visitors to volunteer with agencies that tackle homelessness issues they are passionate about, though lower attendance generally means fewer volunteers.
The event picked up around meal times, though, as Wogoman noted about 30 homeless people had been served a free chili lunch and 45 more showed up for dinner.
The evening was much busier, Wogoman said, partly because kids' clubs that were involved in the event showed up after school. Wogoman also said many people walking to the Lerner Theatre stopped to check out the scene.
Earlier in the day, the coalition honored Dean Preheim-Bartel with their Person of the Year Award, recognizing him for his service to the community.
Box City also provided entertainment. Steve's Gym put on a martial arts demonstration at 5 p.m. and the 4-H Pay it Forward club performed the skit “Stone Soup” at 6 p.m.
Wogoman said the hope for next year is to have an even bigger and better Box City, but that this year's turned out well in the end.
“We were excited that we did eventually get the turnout,” she said. “We got quite a bit of donations.”