Homelessness project opens scouts’ eyesWoodbury Middle School eighth graders Heather Dahlberg and Kaitlyn Budd, of Woodbury and eighth grader Kate Ehle, of Maplewood, spent a night in a cardboard box on Oct. 18 as part of Cardboard Box City at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Additionally, the three girls donated 2,800 personal care items to the Dorothy Day Homeless Shelter and the Families Moving Forward organization. The girls participated in Cardboard Box City and donated the items as part of their Girl Scouts Silver Award project.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
While living in a community like Woodbury, you may not necessarily witness, or even think about, what those less fortunate encounter on a daily basis.
Three Girl Scouts from Woodbury Middle School decided to experience first-hand what it’s like to be homeless.
WMS eighth graders Heather Dahlberg and Kaitlyn Budd, of Woodbury and eighth grader Kate Ehle, of Maplewood, spent a night in a cardboard box on Oct. 18 as part of Cardboard Box City at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
Additionally, the three girls donated 2,800 personal care items to the Dorothy Day Homeless Shelter and the Families Moving Forward organization.
The girls participated in Cardboard Box City and donated the items as part of their Girl Scouts Silver Award project.
The Girl Scout Silver Award is the second-highest award one can earn in Girl Scouts. The Silver Award requires Girl Scouts to spend 50 hours or more leading and completing a large service project that demonstrates their leadership skills and educates others. The service project must also be sustainable over time.
“Sleeping in a cardboard box was a one day thing, but donating items makes it long lasting,” Budd said.
When it came time to pick their Silver Award project, the girls’ troop, 50409, split off into separate groups for a number of projects.
Ehle and Budd said they were interested in the homeless project, thought up by Dahlberg, because there needs to be more awareness about it.
“People who don’t see it all the time don’t really think that it’s a problem,” Budd said. “We wanted to show people that it’s serious.”
Ehle agreed with Budd that just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
“I’ve seen homeless before and it’s really kind of sad because all they have is the clothes they have on,” she said. “It’s just kind of sad that their lives are turned upside down and they don’t have a home – they really need a lot of help to make their life better.
“We don’t have very many homeless in Woodbury, so not everyone is aware of it.”
The Cardboard Box City event is sponsored by Families Moving Forward, a shelter program of PORTICO Interfaith Housing Collaborative, and Project Home, a program of the St. Paul Council of Churches. Both organizations will share the proceeds from the event.
It was Dahlberg who first heard of Cardboard Box City and Budd and Ehle quickly got on board with the idea.
Budd and Ehle said they thought it would be interesting to sleep in a box for the night.
Although Budd and Ehle said Cardboard Box City was a fun experience, with hot cocoa, soup and activities. Both girls said it was also an eye opening experience.
“It was a cool experience because you got to say you slept in a box,” Ehle said. “Even though it was fun, I think it would be much different if you were actually homeless.”
The girls got a bit more of a taste of what homeless go through while sleeping outside when it started to rain right before bed.
“When it started raining, we started thinking that this is what it’s really like,” Ehle said.
Both Budd and Ehle said participating in Cardboard Box City has opened their eyes to just how fortunate they are and how a lot of people aren’t that lucky.
“(Cardboard Box City) taught me to be thankful for what we have,” she said. “We need to be really thankful for what you have because not everyone is as fortunate.”
“You think about what you have and you take it for granted, but some people don’t have that stuff,” she said. “(Cardboard Box City) made me think about how homeless people’s lives are every day and what they have to go through and how their lives are different than ours.”
Helping the community
Ehle has been a member of Girl Scouts for eight years whereas Budd has been a Girl Scout for five.
Dahlberg was not available for an interview.
Both Budd and Ehle joined Girl Scouts thanks to the urging of friends and siblings.
Budd said her favorite aspects of Girl Scouts are camping and selling cookies.
“Girl Scouts is a good way to help with volunteering and hang out with your friends at the same time as bettering your community,” she said.
Ehle said she enjoys Girl Scouts because of the camp aspect as well.
Both Budd and Ehle said Girl Scouts has helped them develop some life skills.
“Girl Scouts has taught me that you need to respect other people,” Budd said.
“Girl Scouts really focus on just being yourself and trying to do good things in the community,” Ehle said.