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The registration deadline is Friday to participate in Cardboard Box City – the sleep-out to raise awareness about homelessness and benefit Family Promise of Western New York, a nonprofit that rescues homeless families.

Registration forms and other information are available through the Family Promise website, www.fpwny.org, or by calling 821-9100.

Cardboard Box City will be held overnight April 20 at Medaille College. Participants provide their own boxes and secure pledges, with a suggested minimum total of $50. This event is open to all, including school groups, community organizations and families.

The cardboard box has become a symbol of the crisis of homelessness, especially in a world of recession and rapidly fraying safety nets.

In 1995, Sandy Seitz and her 5-year-old daughter – with no income, no family and nowhere to go – ended up in a homeless shelter.

Today, Seitz – who has bought a home, graduated from college and retired from a career – leads the board of Family Promise, which provides shelters, meals, guidance and hope to families facing the same dilemma she did in 1995.

“I didn’t know about Family Promise back then,” Seitz said. “If I had known about it, I believe I would have gotten on my feet a lot sooner. It is a wonderful program, and I am blessed to be part of it.”

Families make up nearly 40 percent off all homeless people in Erie County. Recently, the Erie County Department of Social Services announced that significantly more people sought emergency shelter in 2012 than in the year before. The biggest spike, the report showed, was among families with children.

email: citydesk@buffnews.com