This Friday, students and folks across the county will be wearing purple, not in support of the Briar Jumpers, but to bring awareness to the problem of homelessness within the county.
County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley and Somerset City Mayor Eddie Girdler signed a proclamation Monday declaring Friday a day to wear purple. This was to draw attention to the problems associated with homelessness as well as to announce an upcoming fundraising event.
CardBoard Nation will be taking place in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church in Somerset. Students and other citizens will be camping out from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday.
They will be armed with nothing but cardboard boxes for shelter, a blanket, a bowl of soup and the clothes on their backs as they make it through the chilly night.
The event was organized by students and the adult advisors of the branches of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) at both Pulaski County High School and Somerset High School.
Courtney Ikerd, the FBLA advisor for SHS, said she has been “amazed” at the effort being put forth from the students to get the word out for this event.
Several students have been making the rounds to as many of the media outlets as they could get, along with organizing the event and planning to participate in the campout.
Jordyn Bray, a senior at SHS and one of the event organizers, said that she learned about Pulaski County’s homelessness issue by attending forums at Rocky Hollow Park and finding out about the problems that the homeless in the area face on a daily basis.
“I really felt moved to help,” she said. “I want to get the word out to as many people as possible.”
Bray is “very excited” to be joining her friends camping in boxes. Each group of participants will be staying in a specific area designated for their organization, and each camper will get their own individual cardboard box.
It will be “lights out” at midnight, Bray said.
She said she was thankful to be participating, and that by learning more about the challenges homeless people face, she could be more thankful for what she had in her own life. “I’m really blessed with what I have,” she said.
Besides sleeping in boxes, businesses and members of the community were given the chance to make donations and to sponsors the campers.
Somerset police and firefighters will be on hand to provide security and assistance during the event.
Ikerd said that the community has shown a tremendous amount of support to the students during the planning of CardBoard Nation, but the students are the ones making this event special.
“As teachers, we are all so proud of the maturity and eloquence that our students have demonstrated in regards to their leadership skills, public speaking and networking abilities.”
She said the money raised will go towards providing a homeless shelter during times severe weather such as extreme cold.
“Currently, our community does not have a shelter and desperately needs one,” Ikerd said.