The 2018 VWU Off-Campus Shelter Managers are giving students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of homelessness in a campus Shack-A-Thon event. This fundraiser will begin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, and end at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16.
The event consists of teams of students creating a shack from limited materials and then living out of it for three days and two nights. According to an email sent out by Kate Griffin, each group is asked to pay $5 per member, which will be donated to housing development and hunger prevention in the Hampton Roads area. Participants will have the opportunity to win top shack, which is the group that raises the most money, most creative shack and most sustainable shack.
In the email, Kate Griffin said that the purpose of the event is to “unite the VWU campus and raise awareness about the current state of hunger [and] homelessness, especially within our community,” “stimulate ideas of what is means to be hungry [and] homeless in Hampton Roads” and “build shacks, spend time in the shacks and learn from this unique experience.”
The implemented rules are intended to make the event more realistic, but to also ensure safety. There is no drug or alcohol use permitted, no fires, limited electricity and security will be present. Rules will be enforced by soft money fines.
Shack-A-Thon will also feature a variety of events throughout such as a clothes drive, open mic night, movie night, games and guest speakers.
Professor Takeyra Collins, who is the faculty manager of the event, is excited to be able to give students a chance to be a part of this event while also raising awareness for homelessness.
“Because it’s National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week, I really want the students to gain a better understanding of homelessness,” Collins said. She also stressed the idea that it is not entirely accurate to compare it to walking in their shoes just because students are creating shacks on Batten lawn, but simply participating in the experience is taking steps in the right direction to understand the severity of homelessness.
Cecilia Billings, a junior majoring in recreation and leisure studies, said that Shack-A-Thon will give her the opportunity to help a great cause as well as bond with her teammates.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to participate in this event I’ve never been introduced to,” Billings said, and added that she was also excited it was her advisor was hosting the event.
“I’m going to get the chance to experience a difference lifestyle along with my teammates, my trusty fellows,” Billings said.
Collins was inspired by NC State’s execution of Shack-A-Thon. She noted that it improved each year, which influenced her decision to bring it to Virginia Wesleyan. “The goal was to really put something on that students, especially freshmen who are not aware of how we do the shelter, can be a part of. That is one of the main reasons it was decided to be brought to Virginia Wesleyan,” Collins said.
Through this event, students will get the chance to bond with one another, whether they are friends, teammates, or classmates. “I think the ability for them to bond with their peers and just have an opportunity to not only fight for a cause to end homelessness, but for them to be able to actually do something in relation to what we can do as a community” Collins said.
For more information or to ask questions about the event, people can email the Emergency Off-Campus Shelter Managers at firstname.lastname@example.org.