On Jan. 25, the Texarkana Homeless Coalition (TXKHC) will conduct its annual Point-In-Time homeless population count followed the next day by a special annual event.

TXKHC’s Bridge City Project sponsored by Cigna will start at 5 p.m on the 26th, and end Jan. 27 at 6 a.m. on the corner of Fifth and Oak Street in Texarkana, Texas. The event challenges members of the community to understand the plight of the homeless by spending one night outdoors in a box, and individuals or organizations can enter their best chili in a chili cook-off competition. To register Bridge City 2018 visit their website, or here.

Every year the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires all homeless coalitions to count the number homeless individuals by the last week in January. For Bridge City individuals or a team will spend the event night sleeping outside in a box of their creation. Each participant is asked to try and raise a minimum of $100. Local schools and churches will participate in building sleeping structures that will be used at the event. Movie Madness is the theme for the chili cook-off. The entry fee is $25, and contestants are asked to make enough chili for 50 people. Contestants for the chili cook-off will be judged for Best Presentation, People’s Choice, and Best in Texarkana.

Alaina Marcum, Bridge City coordinator and president of TXKHC, encourages the community to attend the event. “Some of the deepest needs we have as human beings are to be heard, seen, and accepted. It is not often that the homeless and impoverished in our community get to experience the satisfaction of these most basic needs,” said Marcum. “Bridge City provides this rare opportunity for us as a city to cross the socioeconomic line and identify with the plight of our neighbors for one night while raising money to provide for their needs at the same time.”

The funds raised through Bridge City and other projects sponsored by TXKHC will be used to fund scholarships for educational opportunities for those experiencing homelessness, and provide training and technical assistance for local agencies.