Participants at the Cardboard Box City include, in front from left, Anika Reiland, Treyton Pokorney, Zach Reiland, Morgan Langeslag, Jolene Leutink, Emma Broadwater and Noah Broadwater. Back row:  Matthew Woods, Jordan Pokorney, Amy Welch, Tyler Kappers, Melinda Woods, Noah Schmidt, Sarah O'Connell, Kaylee Beevers, Jessi Kaster and Jacob Welch.  Not shown:  Jordan Meskill, Karli Bly, Heather Apenhorst, Kalli Kohlmeyer, Sara Hill and Jordyyn Tart.  SUBMITTED PHOTOS BY JANET KAPPERS
Participants at the Cardboard Box City include, in front from left, Anika Reiland, Treyton Pokorney, Zach Reiland, Morgan Langeslag, Jolene Leutink, Emma Broadwater and Noah Broadwater. Back row: Matthew Woods, Jordan Pokorney, Amy Welch, Tyler Kappers, Melinda Woods, Noah Schmidt, Sarah O'Connell, Kaylee Beevers, Jessi Kaster and Jacob Welch. Not shown: Jordan Meskill, Karli Bly, Heather Apenhorst, Kalli Kohlmeyer, Sara Hill and Jordyyn Tart. SUBMITTED PHOTOS BY JANET KAPPERS
Bloomfield Cloverleaves 4-H club and Kingsland National Honor Society members learned about and raised money for the homeless and hungry at their Cardboard Box City Friday, May 16, at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Spring Valley.

The project was the 4-H club's main Community Pride project for the year. A total of $753 was raised by collecting pledges. The proceeds will be split between the Spring Valley Food Shelf and the Spring Valley-Wykoff Back to School supply program.

A total of 19 youth from kindergarten to 12th grade plus four adults built houses out of cardboard and slept in them the entire night in the parking lot at the church. An additional five youth and several other parents visited the city and assisted with a hot dog roast and a pancake breakfast. There was anywhere from one to four people in each house.

The evening included a presentation and video by Nicole Pokorney, regional 4-H educator, about homelessness and poverty in Minnesota. Participants then did a learning activity in groups brainstorming about the causes of homelessness and what they can do to help.

The night was also filled with games, making s'mores and playing cards on top of a cardboard box. Everybody snuggled into their houses at 11 pm.

The night was damp but the rain held off, said Janet Kappers, a 4-H leader. The cardboard became soggy but all of them stood up the entire night with only sagging rooftops. Most stayed fairly warm in their houses, except for Karli Bly as she got really cold, noted Kappers.

Kappers asked the participants a few questions and following are their responses.

What was your favorite thing about the event?

Amy Welch: Seeing everyone embracing sleeping in a cardboard box.

Anika Reiland: Sleeping in a cardboard box.

Zach Reiland: Playing outside.

Sarah Reiland: Seeing the groups work together so well for an important purpose.

Melinda Woods: Not having any rain and the thrill that my house didn't collapse

Janet Kappers: Seeing everybody work together and getting to know the kids better.

Tyler Kappers: Seeing Jordan Meskill in footie pajamas

What did you learn about homelessness, hunger and poverty?

Amy Welch: Many people go hungry and homeless because of one bad decision and it spirals down from there.

Anika Reiland: It's not only in big cities but kids in our school experience this as well.

Melinda Woods: There are actually numerous kids within Fillmore County that go hungry

Janet Kappers: There are over 10,000 people in Minnesota that are homeless, with 46 percent of them being age 21 and under. This is up 6 percent since 2009.

Tyler Kappers: It is right here in our own community. There are many reasons for homelessness - unemployment and underemployment, illness and related medical expenses, addictions, etc.

What can you do to help people that are homeless and hungry?

Amy Welch: We can volunteer at shelters and donate to food shelves.

Anika Reiland: We can give them food.

Zach Reiland: We can give them money

Melinda Woods: I can encourage fellow students to stay in school, because without an education several people can't get a job and end up homeless.

Tyler Kappers: Encourage kids to stay in school so they can get a decent job someday. I can also volunteer.

What was the best part of your house and did you stay warm?

Amy Welch: The best part of my house was we had a little awning off the side. I stayed pretty warm. We had sleeping bags and fleece blankets.

Anika Reiland: Yes, I stayed warm. The best part was staying with Mom.

Zach Reiland: No, I was cold. The best part about my house was the window.

Melinda Woods: The best part of my house would have to be that it stayed up, and it was warm for the most part!

Janet Kappers: The kids made my house for me and it resembled a coffin. They even drew daisies on the side of it! I did stay warm in it though with just a slight breeze on my head all night.

Tyler Kappers: Yes, I stayed warm but the roof was lying on top of me by morning because of the soggy cardboard.