FOND DU LAC - Despite the harsh weather elements one Fond du Lac man is spending the weekend living in a cardboard box.
For a long time Gene Willis had no idea there were homeless people in his hometown.
"Milwaukee, Chicago, places like that. I didn't realize we had any in Fond du Lac....it broke my heart. It really did, it broke my heart and that's why I did this," said Willis.
Willis told FOX 11 he spending his Thanksgiving break living in this cardboard box day and night outside the Solutions Center Men's Shelter. He is raising donations and awareness. Willis is not the only one who was ignorant about the need in the community.
"Homeless people in Fond du Lac is such an invisible part of Fond du Lac," said Jill Snortum of Fond du Lac.
According to Solutions about 350 people in Fond du Lac seek shelter yearly.
"Everybody is a paycheck or two away from being homeless," said Angelita Collins-Mazzoco a House Advocate for Solutions Center.
Willis is accepting donations of all kinds: gift cards and money, clothes and toiletries. It all goes to the Solutions Center.
So far his donation box has been filled about 5 times since Thursday. Willis told us he's surprised at the outpouring of support from the community.
"I can't even say 'thanks,' I mean, that's just not enough," said Willis.
Willis is getting thanks too.
"it's awesome, awesome, awesome!" exclaimed Snortum.
"I commend him, you know, he's been a great guy so far and we're having fun," said Collins-Mazzoco.
But it hasn't been easy. When we spoke to Gene it was 31 degrees and the wind kept blowing his box over.
"I don't know how people do this. I'm only out here four days. After this I go home and I sleep in my home. After their fourth day, they go on to their fifth day of being homeless and the sixth day of being homeless," said Willis.
So, he says, it's worth the effort.
Willis will be accepting donations at the men's shelter at 114 East Second Street in Fond du Lac through Sunday morning.
Solutions Center has a men's, a women's and a warming shelter that will benefit from his work.
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