Kids from area youth groups spent some time Wednesday afternoon building a house and a car. Yes, a house and a car.
But this isn't your traditional house. And the car will never hit the open highway.
The house and car were being built out of cans of non-perishable food donated to the Kitchen Table Food Shelf. The cans were collected in March, which was Hunger Awareness Month, and were part of the March food drive. Marshall churches collected the cans and raised money during the campaign.
"I don't think people are very aware of the need for food in this area, especially kids," said Western Community Action special event coordinator Jessica Soucy. "It's good for the kids to see that there are people who are hungry or homeless right here. It's an eye-opening experience for these kids.
"We wanted to have a car, because a lot of homeless people in the area sleep in cars, not on a bench or wherever," Soucy added. "We don't have a homeless shelter, so people sometimes end up living in their cars."
"The car is more of a symbol to give a sense that there are homeless people in our community whose only place of security is sleeping in their car," Western Community Action Development Director Allan Bakke said.
Bakke said kids in the area need to know that there are homeless people right here in their own community, as well as people who live in their city who are hungry and who can't afford to eat three meals a day, or even one, like they're able to do.
"It's a big effort to raise cash and donations to be able to provide food and security right in our own backyard," Bakke said. "A lot of kids, especially the younger ones, don't see grocery bills and go to the cupboard and there's always something there, or there's always something in the fridge. What we're trying to do with the can structures is draw awareness to the have and have-not situation that goes on right here."
The campaign went beyond food donations.
Bakke said that because the food shelf is part of a food bank network, it can purchase $10 worth of food for every dollar raised. That kind of buying power makes cash donations just as important as food donations.
Bakke calls it a two-fold campaign, but if you think about it, it's three-fold. Not only did it raise money and bring in an untold amount of food, it also showed kids in Marshall that homelessness and hunger isn't restricted to large inner-cities. It can happen right in their own backyard.
Quite an eye-opener indeed.