HARRISVILLE — Heather Butler reflected on the comforts of her home as she hunkered down inside an empty dishwasher box.
The 15-year-old Girl Scout was preparing herself for a Friday night out in the cold so she could experience some of what it would be like to be homeless.
“We don’t realize how lucky we really are,” she said. “So many people complain because they don’t have all the new fancy items for their house, but there are people out there who don’t even have a house.”
The 13 girls, who come from troops in Ogden, North Ogden and Brigham City, planned to spend the night outside Ascension Lutheran Church during the second “Night in a Box.”
The event was held to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless population in the community.
The girls gathered at the church around 6:30 p.m. and began taping up empty appliance boxes to ensure good insulation for the night. Most of the girls wore several layers of clothes and brought extra coats and blankets.
“I thought it sounded like a good idea to come out and see what it’s like for homeless people,” said 12-year-old Maya Moody.
“We’re here to help and support them, and I don’t think most of us know what they have to go through.”
Maya said she brought four jackets, several blankets, a pair of comfortable pajamas and extra duct tape to seal up her box.
“I think doing something like this will help us to appreciate them more,” she said. “Instead of being so rude to the homeless, we should be nice to them and try to help them.”
Dolores O’Donnell, director of the Girl Scouts Wasatch Service Unit, said she came up with the idea from other Girl Scout troops around the country.
“It was very successful, so we decided to adopt the idea here,” she said.
“We also have some of the younger girls bringing in donations for St. Anne’s (homeless shelter) tonight. They’re too young to spend the night, so they collected coats, hats, gloves and blankets, and we will drop them off in the morning.”
Once the girls had everything set up, they were not allowed to go inside the church except to use the restroom.
As the night went on, they built a campfire, ate dinner from a paper sack and listened to a speaker from St. Anne’s talk about what it’s like to be homeless.
“I did this last year, and it was really cold. We got rained on and snowed on, and our boxes caved in and everything,” said Alyssa Snyder, 15.
“It really taught me what it must be like to be homeless.”
Cathleen Sparrow, executive director of the Girl Scouts of Utah, said the event is a shining example of what Girl Scouts do to become leaders.
“Girl Scouting teaches girls to have courage and confidence and encourages them to build their leadership skills through community service,” she said.
“I’m so impressed and proud of the Wasatch Service Unit because they are bringing attention to a cause that always needs assistance and helping people who are in unfortunate circumstances.”