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Norman young people spend Night in a Box

Twenty-four Norman youths spent a night sleeping in a box to get a taste of what it's like to be homeless.
BY SARAH LOBBAN Modified: March 4, 2013 at 11:32 pm •  Published: March 5, 2013

Bridges provides income-based apartments as well as guidance and career coaching to high school youths living alone.

The Rev. Dusty Buff, of Grace Church, spoke of an experience when he and an assistant pastor went “homeless” for 10 days. He commended participants for being willing to undertake a similar challenge.

Night in a Box participants stood in line to receive a meal of soup made from a mix of the canned vegetables they had brought, and saltine crackers. Participants were asked not to eat the day of the event to gain a better perspective of common issues faced by the homeless.

After dinner, they acted out scenarios under which a person might become homeless. Then they went outside to sleep in their cardboard shelters.

Participants were allowed to move inside the church building if temperatures became too extreme. However, despite the cold weather, nearly every participant spent the entire night outside.

Macy Bratcher, an eighth-grader, and her brother Max, a ninth-grader, were among the repeat participants. This was Max's fourth year and Macy's third.

“You feel part of what the homeless people go through, so you can really sympathize,” Macy said.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there were nearly 5,000 people living homeless in Oklahoma in 2009.

Ryan Clement, a sixth-grader, said it was his first year to participate and was an enlightening experience.

“It makes you wonder what it would feel like to really have to live like this,” he said.