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"When you are out there in that box you get a Adidas Boost Women Blue

It wasn't an ideal arrangement for Chamings or his then 15 year old daughter, who had to share a bathroom with other tenants.

very small sense of what it must be like to be homeless," said Calna McGoldrick, soup kitchen executive director. "It's a bit scary. You feel really vulnerable. You can hear noises all around you, but you can't see out of the box to see what is going on."

The sleepover is a fundraiser for the James Street centre, but it's also a way to raise awareness about homeless ness and other issues people in poverty face each day.

"I find there is less available and (the apartments) are more expensive," he said. "You are looking at probably about $700 plus if you want a half decent two bedroom, if not more."

"I think the biggest thing is a recognition of the poverty that is out there and how the little things that we do make a big difference in other people's lives," Ruscio said.

sleeping outside in a cardboard box. This year, volunteer bands will provide entertainment. Prizes and awards will be given to participants in categories for fundraising and box design. Last year, about 200 participants at the event raised $20,000 but McGoldrick expects to far surpass that total this year.

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"Definitely we've lost a lot of affordable housing, but it wasn't necessarily safe housing either," she said.

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Part of the reason is the fundraising efforts of Joe Ruscio, a first time sleepover participant who has collected about $17,000. Ruscio, owner of Joe Ruscio Professional Corporation, said he decided to get involved because it's such a great cause.

´╗┐Affordable housing hard to

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Rick Cobean, housing manager at the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board, said about 1,074 applicants were on the waiting list for rent geared to income housing in the Sault at the end of October. The majority of the applications 703 were for bachelor and one bedroom units. A total of 214 of those people waiting were seniors.

"They are looking at it as a fun event, too. They are doing it with there friends," Ruscio said.

Trying to make ends meet on a disability cheque of about $1,000 per month, 46 year old Geoffrey Chamings recently found himself living with his teen daughter in a one room apartment above a James Street pub.

"They see the purpose. They understand what they are doing," he said.

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Ruscio wants them to recognize how fortunate they are and demonstrate why it's important to serve the community.

"There are just so many people that have come together to make it happen. I couldn't have done it without all the people who pledged me," he said.

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Chamings is one of about 200 people planning to attend the Great Soup Kitchen Sleepover on Friday night. He volunteers for the organization.

She has heard of prices going up and the number of rooming houses going down.

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He was hesitant to take the credit for the large donation.

had nowhere to go. He knows a lot Adidas Boost Shoes Mens of people who end up in that situation.

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The lack of affordable housing in the city is one of the main issues McGoldrick sees among the people who use the soup kitchen.

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The children will be joined by Daniel and Sophia Martella at the sleepover.

The average rent for a two bedroom apartment in April 2010 was $682 per month and a year later it was $729. Three bedroom places went from $712 per month to $751 per month over the same time period.

"They provide a great service to the community," Ruscio said.

Ruscio has also made the event a lesson for his two children, Morgan, 12, and Joey, 10. They will attend the sleepover as a family.

Chamings has rented in the Sault all his life. Once, he ended up couch surfing at a friend's place when he Adidas Basketball Shoes Crazy Light

The apartment, which cost $250 a month, was all he could find at the time. Since then, Chamings and his now 16 year old daughter have found a one bedroom apartment for $450, which has a private bathroom.

"It's still cramped," Chamings said. "It's not too bad. The building is not in very good shape, but it sure beats the heck out of (the other place)."

About a decade ago, the Sault had a vacancy rate in the double digits. It was down to 1.3% in the spring, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The soup kitchen fed 18,414 meals to adults in 2008. Last year, that number was up to 20,753. The organization has other programs, such as a food bank for other agencies and a healthy snack program for children.

Participants spend the night outside rain, snow or otherwise in cardboard boxes.

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