About 150 people are expected to spend the night in First Tennessee Pavilion on Saturday with nothing more than a cardboard box or pup tent to protect them from fall's chill.
The third Camp Out To Stamp Out Family Homelessness is a fundraiser for Interfaith Homeless Network. It challenges individuals, youth groups and families to learn firsthand what it's like to be homeless by spending the night outdoors without the comforts of home. Campers sleep in boxes, tents or sleeping bags and are served by volunteers in an impromptu "soup kitchen."
"Volunteers will be on hand to serve up soup, sandwiches, coffee, hot chocolate, sodas, popcorn and fruit during the evening," said Kelley Nave, United Way of Greater Chattaonoga director of public relations.
Joann Pelletier of St. Jude Catholic Church, Kathleen Robinson of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church and Lee Ann Samuels of Mizpah Congregation are co-chairing the food committee. Nave said sandwiches will be assembled by UTC master's level clinical- and school-counseling students. Baylor School students are assembling goody bags that will be given to participants.
Activities such as face painting, scavenger hunt, games, talent show, music and crafts have been planned to entertain all ages of families participating. There is no minimum age for a child to attend, but all youth must be accompanied by an adult, Nave said. For additional safety, police security will be present throughout the event.
Mary Ellen Galloway, IHN executive director, said cardboard boxes will be available on-site while they last. But since there is a Box City design contest, participants may want to get a headstart on their decorations by locating a box today at an appliance or grocery store.
Galloway said IHN would prefer participants register online today so that volunteers in food preparation have an accurate head count. However, paying at the door is available by printing out a registration form and bringing it to the campout. The registration form may be downloaded at www.ihnchattanooga.org.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...