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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Third annual cardboard campout held in Carrier Mills Friday night

  • The Carrier Mills First United Methodist again held a cardboard campout for the homeless to raise money for the Christian Community Compassion Center's homeless shelter Friday night through Saturday morning.
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  • The Carrier Mills First United Methodist again held a cardboard campout for the homeless to raise money for the Christian Community Compassion Center's homeless shelter Friday night through Saturday morning.

    This was the third year for the event and organizer Debbie Schreffler was hoping for an even bigger turnout than last year's 70 participants.

    Last year, the group, which was made up of youth from several area churches, raised more than $3,000 for the shelter, which was more than double what they raised from the first year's event.

    Anthony Kalodner, 15, participated last year and decided to join the event again this year.

    "It was really cold, but it was worth it," Kalodner said of last year's event.

    Organizers were glad the weather was a little warmer for this year's campout. Schreffler said she was expecting between 75 and 80 youth to participate this year, along with around 35 adults who could choose whether or not to spend the entire night at the farm.

    In addition to the Methodist Church in Carrier Mills, youth and adults from Carrier Mills First Baptist Church and Stonefort General Baptist Church were also involved in this year's event.

    The campout began 5 p.m. Friday at the First United Methodist Church in Carrier Mills. Participants walked around town to raise awareness about the event then headed out to a local farm where they slept in cardboard boxes for the night. The event included a box decorating contest, guest speakers, group games and worship under the stars.

    Youth involved in the campout gathered donations by asking community members and local businesses to pledge a certain amount of money for their participation in the event.

    Jonah Crowder, 15, participated in the event this year for the first time. He said it was not too difficult to find people willing to donate to the cause.

    "I'm excited about it because this is my first year," Crowder said. "I decided to do it because people have told me it would be a good experience."

    Organizers hope that participants get a feel for what it's like to be homeless by sleeping in boxes, eating a soup kitchen meal and going without electronics for the night. Shreffler hopes it will be educational for the kids, in addition to helping the homeless shelter with much-needed funding.

    Mona Crim, of the CCCC homeless shelter, said last year that the event is a big help to her organization.

    "Every dollar counts," Crim said at the beginning of last year's campout. "It also brings awareness to our communities."
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    The Rev. Stan Irvin, of the First United Methodist Church in Carrier Mills, said he encourages the church's youth to get involved in events like this one because it teaches them to have compassion for those less fortunate.

    "One of the tenets of Christianity is to do service," he said. "You can't just preach the word of God, you've got to live it."

    Irvin said he thinks introducing young people to ideas and circumstances the've never been exposed to before "develops them not only into a deeper Christian, but also into a more decent human being."

    Irvin, who has been the pastor there for four years now, said he places a large emphasis on mission work, both locally and internationally. He said the two main tenets taught by the church are personal holiness and social justice.

    "Without social justice you're a hollow shell," Irvin said.

    Anyone who would like to donate to the cardboard campout may send a check to the First United Methodist Church, 109 E. Washington St., Carrier Mills, 62917, with a note in the memo portion of the check stating it is for the cardboard campout.
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