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Cardboard Boxes Shelter Homeless Advocates

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – About a dozen Croton teenagers could be seen setting up camp in front of Holy Name of Mary Church on Saturday evening. The group wasn’t starting the latest arm of the “Occupy” movement, they were raising awareness about the plight of the homeless.

“I started doing Midnight Runs into the city, and saw so much of it,” said Brendan Gaffney, one of the founding members of the annual fundraiser. The Midnight Runs Gaffney is referring to are organized by a Dobbs Ferry-based charity which donates food, clothing and shoes to homeless in New York.

Gaffney said when he found out there was an organization helping homeless as close as Peekskill, he was shocked. “It’s not like you see that about Croton, so it never came into my mind that it was so close,” he said. The group donates the money they collect from sleeping outside to Caring for the Homeless of Peekskill, for the past four years they have raised a couple thousand dollars.

In front of Holy Name of Mary Church a collage of taped boxes, blankets and sleeping bags littered the sidewalk. The group usually starts a small fire, to keep warm. One year it was so cold the group’s precautionary bucket of water froze. It snowed a separate year. The temperature dropped to 35 degrees on Saturday night.

“There are homeless in Westchester and people don’t realize it,” said Nora Horvath, a Croton-Harmon High School senior, “we decided to do it to raise awareness.” Each year the group has grown, from just a few kids, to over a dozen with donations from local businesses.

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