In order to promote the College and community’s awareness of homelessness in America, Habitat for Humanity is proudly organizing an exciting event on campus called Shack-A-Thon.
According to Hope for Homelessness, a blog by the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, “on a given night, an estimated 672,000 people experience homelessness. This means 22 out of every 10,000 people are homeless in America.” The site continues to say that “the most common makeup of a homeless family is a [single] mother with one or two children.”
Elizabethtown College has a service club that is firmly dedicated to decreasing the overwhelming number of people who are homeless: Habitat for Humanity. The Habitat for Humanity website states that they are “a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian” ministry founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live.
Etown’s Habitat for Humanity is a branch of the global organization of the same name. The service club is run by junior president Laurel Taylor and vice presidents Kyle Dyer and Ashley Butenewicz, who are also juniors.
The club frequently fundraises and is assigned ‘build days’ in various local construction sites, during which members help to build and repair houses for people in need. In addition, the people for whom Habitat for Humanity builds also have to commit a certain number of hours to building their own homes.
Dyer and Butenewicz are the student coordinators of the upcoming on-campus awareness and fundraising event, which will take place Friday, April 20 on Brinser Field.
Participants will buy assorted plots for $10 to $20, and they will receive a certain amount of cardboard and duct tape in order to build a livable shelter.
Furthermore, participants are encouraged to bring additional creative materials to build their shacks, which will simulate poverty housing. The shacks will be judged by criteria of most stable and most creative, and prizes will be awarded to the winners.
The Shack-A-Thon will also have food, music and a variety of forms of entertainment. Students and community members are encouraged to attend the event and to watch students battle each other for the distinction of the best shack.
This event has not taken place at Etown for almost six years, and the cabinet members of Habitat for Humanity are extremely animated about reviving this poverty-awareness event.
In previous years, participants were challenged to remain in their structures throughout the night. However, this year, contestants are not required to stay overnight. The event will be over at 10 p.m. Though if competitors wish to stay overnight, the Habitat for Humanity cabinet members stated that this would be permissible.
Shack-A-Thon is an annual, nationwide occurrence. Hundreds of schools and organizations across the U.S. participate to build a national awareness of homelessness. Students at Etown have heard buzz about the event, and many think it is an important step to take to raise awareness of poverty in America.
Sophomore Alexandra Christ stated, “It makes me really happy that such an event is happening at Etown. I think it’s really important that more events like this should take place here on campus because our motto here at Etown is education for service.”
Christ continued, “Homelessness is a huge problem in America. I see so many homeless people out in the city, begging for food and shelter. I think it’s great that something is being done to decrease the numbers of people out in the street.”
First-year Sajid Amir expressed hopes that such an event might occur back in his home country of Bangladesh. “[Homelessness] is a huge problem back at home! It’s normal to see little kids begging on the streets with babies in their arms in hopes of getting more money,” Amir said.
“We do have some organizations to help the people, but [they are] not nearly as organized or proficient as Habitat for Humanity,” Amir added. “I’m glad something like this exists here at Etown. Maybe the club can come to Bangladesh to help the people there.”
Etown’s branch of Habitat for Humanity is also fundraising to sponsor a future service trip to Florida to help families build homes.
One of the many fundraising events is Buy a Brick, where people can pay a dollar for a brick and then sign their name on a Lego.
“We are building it into a house, to show how a little bit can turn into something important and that your little donation that you give is going towards something great,” the Habitat for Humanity cabinet members explained in a statement.
Habitat for Humanity hopes to increase student involvement and awareness on the Etown campus.
The more people who are aware of the realities of homelessness, the more powerful the movement will become to get people off of the streets and into homes.