DANVILLE – Frank Wright, owner of Wright’s Heating and Air, said he hopes to have his parking lot on South Gilbert Street full of cardboard boxes this weekend.
But these won’t be any ordinary cardboard boxes. They will be used as makeshift shelters on Saturday night to raise awareness of the plight of homeless veterans in Vermilion County.
The Sleep Out for Veterans will start at 6 p.m. Saturday and end around 6 a.m. Sunday at Wright’s Heating and Air at 525 S. Gilbert St.
“Adults will sleep right there in the parking lot,” Wright said. “I hope to have 100 cardboard shelters out there to bring up awareness.”
People attending the event that night are asked to park across the street at Aldi’s.
While children play games, such as apple bobbing and bag tossing, and have their faces painted between 6-10 p.m. Saturday, the adults will build their cardboard shelters.
“I’m supplying a lot of the cardboard. I’ve been saving up furnace boxes for two months,” Wright said, adding that event participants are welcome to bring their own cardboard.
“We’re going to see who can build the best cardboard shelter,” he said.
All veterans are invited to the event, and “the most decorated veteran will do the judging of the cardboard shelters,” he said.
The builder of the shelter with the highest score will receive a night at the Days Inn and dinner at the Beef House. The second highest score will earn that builder a night at the Days Inn and dinner at the Possum Trot.
“Everything has been donated or paid for out of my pocket,” he said of the prizes and food and beverages that will be served that night.
Wright said he hopes to expand the event next year.
‘We’re going to try to get all of South Danville to participate next year so we have more than one campsite,” he said.
Wright said once word got out about his desire to do something for the homeless veterans in the county, he has been receiving donations of blankets and money.
“We’re accepting anything that will make their life more comfortable,” he said. “One hundred percent of what’s donated is going to go directly to the homeless veterans in Vermilion County.
“It’s time to give back and to serve them,” he said.