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Homeless and Hungry; Warm hearts, generosity keep weather at bay

Participants take in the lot full of cardboard shelters set up for the Homeless and Hungry event Saturday night at West Fargo's Faith Lutheran Church. They collected 2,936 pounds of food. Michael Vosburg/The Forum1 / 2
Carley Rortvedt, 12, puts the finishing touches on a cardboard shelter during the Homeless and Hungry event. Michael Vosburg/The Forum2 / 2

During a weekend when plentiful rain, wind and cold gave proof summer truly is over, some area residents got a feel for what it's like to be homeless in North Dakota.

And with nothing but a cardboard box to shelter against the elements, it can be downright miserable.

The fourth annual Homeless and Hungry event took place Oct. 3-4 at 20 locations around the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness for homelessness. Able participants fasted for 30 hours, spent a night in a cardboard box and went door-to-door asking for donations.

Amy Kippen, director of faith formation at Faith Lutheran Church in West Fargo, said that even though the weather wasn't ideal, the turnout was good.

"Everyone knew what we were in for. Everyone came dressed appropriately," Kippen said. "Some people got good sleep and some people got just a couple of hours."

Kippen said Faith Lutheran drew 81 participants and gathered roughly 3,000 pound of donations from the West Fargo community. She said the event raised roughly $130,000 and accumulated 20,000 pounds of donations overall.

Erik Hatch, director of youth ministries at First Lutheran Church in Fargo and director of Homeless and Hungry, put the total number of participants at about 750, or approximately 150 more than last year.

During church service Sunday at Faith Lutheran, Kippen said Homeless and Hungry participants were encouraged to talk about their experience.

"It was good to hear about how people have an understanding about homelessness now," she said. "I think every participant walked away with a different view of exactly what it's like to be homeless and hungry."

The event culminated Sunday with a city-wide soup kitchen. People who normally would be served at places such as the Salvation Army were bussed to the FargoDome. They also were allowed to take tied-fleece blankets made by event volunteers.

"It was great to have hot soup after the cold weekend," Kippen said.