A campground of cardboard homes littered the Spine on Thursday, Oct. 19 as a part of Habitat for Humanity’s fourth annual Shack-a-Thon event.
Binghamton University’s Shack-a-Thon is held each year in order to raise money for the Broome County Habitat for Humanity chapter. This year, participating organizations spent three hours building cardboard homes, helping to raise over $300 and further Habitat for Humanity’s mission of ensuring that everyone has access to affordable housing. With these funds, the BU chapter will help build homes for local residents in need.
The cardboard huts, which were built by eight teams, were meant to raise awareness for the inadequate housing options faced by some residents of the greater Binghamton area. Broome County’s poverty rate is 17.7 percent and the city of Binghamton’s rate is 33.9 percent, higher than the national average of 14.7 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to Jacqueline St Pierre, a member of BU Habitat for Humanity and a sophomore double-majoring in mathematics and computer science, the annual Shack-a-Thon carries greater weight than a typical campus event.
“Although it may seem fun to build a cardboard house with your friends, this is how some people actually live,” St Pierre said. “As members of Habitat for Humanity, we hope to make people aware of the homelessness issue surrounding us here in New York state.”
Shack-a-Thon participants included a variety of student groups, some of whom were new to the event and hoped to make it a tradition. Matthew O’Malley, a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and a sophomore majoring in geography, said he believed the event was a worthy cause.
“My fraternity is new to campus, so we thought Shack-a-Thon would not only help us in supporting a good cause, but get our name out there,” O’Malley said. “We feel that building our cardboard house has brought us much closer as brothers.”
In regard to creating their shacks, some teams were more strategic than others, constructing preplanned designs with ease. Anna Domagala, a member of Alpha Omega Epsilon engineering sorority and a senior majoring in electrical engineering, said she felt fortunate her group was involved.
“By building our shack, we are able to put to use our design skills as future engineers,” Domagala said. “We want to make sure that we are more than an engineering sorority, and that we are focusing on outreach in the greater Binghamton area.”
In addition to raising awareness for poverty, many participants said the event brought about a sense of camaraderie among the teams and forged new connections among student groups. According to Jacob Richman, a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and a sophomore majoring in computer engineering, students were eager to spread the Shack-a-Thon message to spectators.
“People walk by and want to know what we’re doing,” Richman said. “So I explain to them that people around the world are facing poverty, and Shack-a-Thon is trying to make us all aware of that.”
At the conclusion of Shack-a-Thon, the Theta Chi fraternity was voted winner of the event and awarded a $100 cash prize.