Cardboard City

The annual Cardboard City event, held annually at the Alaska State Fairgrounds, is going digital this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures.

WASILLA — Family Promise Mat-Su is keeping their coveted community event intact, Cardboard City, combatting coronavirus social distancing barriers with a virtual overnight camp out.

Executive Director Ginger Bear said the entire community and even beyond, thanks to the internet’s reach, is invited to raise awareness for homeless families in the Valley and help raise funds to help them.

“Because it’s virtual, people out of state can participate,” Bear said.

Those looking to participate in the 2020 Virtual Community Cardboard City can tune into the livestream July 17 and 18. Participants are encouraged to sleep outside either in a cardboard box or a car, alluding to the reality homeless families deal with on a daily basis.

Bear said they’re still working out the exact details and schedule, but the idea is to provide an overnight campout experience like years past. Family Promise normally holds the event on the Alaska State Fairgrounds but the entire experience will be virtual this year.

People will eat soup and bread between decorating their cardboard boxes or vehicles. There’s still going to be a contest for the most creative decorations.

Bear said that participants setting up camp on their front or back yards should encourage their neighbors to do the same.

“... and you can have a mini city,” Bear said.

Family Promise will be live streaming and posting throughout the evening and following day. Bear said they’re hoping to feature a speaker and they’re working out the details for games and activities like virtual bingo.

“We are so excited,” Bear said.

This is the 13th time Family Promise hosted Cardboard City and the second year of expansion, inviting local shelters to join in.

Participating shelters include MyHouse and Choosing Our Roots that provides services in Mat-Su and in Anchorage simultaneously with a focus on homeless LGBTQ youth.

“We ask that they consider supporting the homeless service provider in your hometown or community of your choice by visiting their respective Facebook pages,” Bear said.

Bear said the current COVID-19 situation calls for extra attention for the topic of homelessness, especially since much more social and economic effects are on the horizon.

It’s important to talk about homlessness right now,” Bear said. “We’re preparing for an onslaught of people in need. We want to do what we can to bring awareness to that issue… I guess the biggest message is homelessness can happen to anybody anytime,” Bear said.

Cardboard City participants are encouraged to submit pictures and videos of their campouts to manager@choosingourroots.org.

For more information, call 907-357-6160, visit familypromisematsu.org, or type “Family Promise Mat-Su” in the Facebook search bar.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

Load comments