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Students Get Boxed In For Charity
Take a bunch of high school students, give them a football field and plenty of cardboard, and they can put together a makeshift community.

That's exactly what students from Escalon and three other schools did on Friday night, gathering for the annual Kids In A Box fundraiser to benefit the Haven of Peace women and children's homeless shelter in San Joaquin County. Students also hoped to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless.

Cardboard was the going construction material on Friday afternoon, as the students gathered to start putting together their makeshift homes for the night. Some had elaborate plans laid out prior to starting work, while others just pieced together what they could to provide some shelter.

Sponsored by Escalon Sunrise Rotary, Delta Bluegrass Co., R.M.C. Homes, Inc., Stagno's Meat Co. and Werner's Construction, many of the participants were members of the Escalon High School Interact Club, which is the youthful arm of Rotary.

"We have members from four Interact clubs here," noted supervisor Sally Mantooth. "We have Edison of Stockton, Enochs from Modesto and Modesto Community School, along with Escalon."

Mantooth said the Escalon students have worked in the past with those from Edison, as they attend Mexico work trips together.

"We're excited to have two more groups as well," she said.

From a cardboard house designed to look like a submarine to a home decorated with a Michael Jackson theme, students worked hard to erect their shelters.

The evening also included food, fellowship, games and plenty of time for considering what it would be like to actually live in a cardboard box, instead of just camping in one for the night.

"We had sleeping bags and sometimes they don't even have that," second year participant Sammy Little noted of being able to bring some comforts of home to the football field.

The EHS junior said it did get chilly overnight, which prompted her to consider what it must be like for those who don't have a choice but to find some sort of shelter on a nightly basis.

"It's really sad to think about that," she admitted.

The fun part, though, was creating the temporary home and being surrounded by students working together to benefit those less fortunate.

"We raise money for a really good cause," she noted.

Senior Michael Vest was working with his dad Don on constructing his shelter.

"I had a lot of fun," the younger Vest said of participating last year. "I thought it would be fun to do it again, plus I'm the project director this year for Interact."

Vest had his shelter outfitted with shelves and stocked with food, settling in for the night.

Mantooth noted that there were over 50 student participants and about 20 adult chaperones, who worked in shifts throughout the night.

"We had a lot of Haven of Peace volunteers as well," she explained. "It's so worth it because our kids are interacting in a positive way with kids from other schools and we're making money for Haven of Peace."

Supporting sponsors were Emil's Liquor and Sport Shop, Escalon Body & Frame, Escalon Feed & Supply, Les Schwab Tire Center, Pizza Plus, San Joaquin First Nations Fellowship and Wright's Petroleum. Mantooth said several people and businesses also donated cardboard for the students to construct their shelters.

The event was coordinated by the EHS Interact Club. Haven of Peace is marking 50 years of helping women and children in San Joaquin County. The homeless shelter is in nearby French Camp.