Once a year the Olin quad is packed with cardboarad and socializing, all for a good cause.
Habitat for Humanity hosted its annual Shack-A-Thon event with over 20 clubs and organizations roughing it to raise funds for the charity.
Coordinator Sandy Wagner said the charity event serves as a way to untie the campus for a common cause.
“It’s one of those events that really brings everyone together,” she said. “It was one of my favorite events even before I was in Habitat. You meet so many new people and it’s for a great cause.”
For 24 hours, participants live in a shelter they create out of cardboard and duct tape. At least one member of every group participating must stay overnight in the shack, and for many, that is the hardest part.
“It does get really chilly at night,” Wagner said.
The experience is fun and memorable, but students said it also reminds people of just how hard living in substandard housing is.
Sophomore Elizabeth Goins stayed in Chi Alpha’s shack last year and said she gained a new understanding for what homeless people have to go through.
“Out here in the cold, [it] definitely made me think about people who have to live like this,” she said. “For me it didn’t seem that bad because it was only one night but it really gave me perspective that some people really have a home made of just cardboard boxes and live out of that.”
While participants fill their shacks with blankets and even use extension cords to power laptops and lights, Wagner said she thinks people do try to get the full effect out of the opportunity.
“I don’t think people would do this in any other instance,” she said. “Camping is the only thing I can think of that’s close to this, but even then you’re on a campground and you have the security of a campsite. This is like, you build your house, if it falls down, it falls down. If you get cold, hopefully you have more blankets; if not, figure it out.”
While the premise of the event is a serious one, it has become a fun-filled bonding experience for all involved.
By 8 p.m. the quad had transformed into a full-on village with everything from Tee-Pees to igloos to a log cabin.
“Its been a great team-building exercise,” said sophomore industrial engineering major John Carrano. “And now we [Lamda Chi] have a house, too.”
An award is given out every year celebrating the best cardboard and duct tape creation.
“People get really competitive because we give away an award for the best shack and people really look forward to winning that,” Wagner said. “This year we have a little gift basket but a lot of people don’t even care about the prizes; they just want the title of having the best shack.”