APPLETON, WIS. – Five years after launching a volunteer project to raise awareness about homelessness and support the local Fox Cities chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Lawrence University students will see their original dream realized later this year.
Thanks to Shack-a-thon, an annual event held each May since 2002, Lawrence students finally reached their goal last spring of raising $20,000, the threshold necessary to partner with other area organizations to sponsor the construction of an area Habitat for Humanity home.
But that doesn’t mean the work is finished. Once again nearly 20 teams of Lawrence students representing a cross section of campus organizations will put their creative engineering acumen to the test Saturday, May 12, turning the Main Hall Green into a weekend shantytown for the sixth edition of Shack-a-thon.
“The objective of this year’s Shack-a-thon is to really return to the roots of how it began,” said senior Emily Palmer, events coordinator at the Lawrence Volunteer and Community Service Center and past president of the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
“Shack-a-thon’s original goal was to co-sponsor a local Habitat for Humanity house. Now that we’ve reached our goal, it is time to remember why we set it in the first place. This year’s event focuses on the current local situation in the Fox Cities. Poverty is not some far away problem in some poor country in Africa. It is right here, in our own town and we have the power and resources to do something about it.”
Palmer said organizers of this year’s Shack-a-thon have set a goal of raising $4,000, which will be donated to the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity to be used at its discretion wherever the need is most warranted.
Beginning early Saturday (5/12)afternoon, students will construct makeshift shelters out of donated and salvaged materials while competing for the title of “Best Shack.” The shacks will remain up until mid-morning Sunday with at least one member of each team required to remain overnight in the shack. Funds are raised through pledges students collect for participating in the event. A panel of Lawrence faculty will serve as judges to determine the winner of this year’s “best shack” contest.
In keeping with this year’s theme of returning to Shack-a-thon’s roots, John Weyenberg, executive director of the Fox Cites chapter of Habitat for Humanity, will discuss at 4:30 p.m. local Habitat activities, the housing needs facing Appleton and the Fox Cities and how Habitat is working to alleviate those needs.
Live music will be performed throughout the afternoon by several Lawrence student bands and the Will Smith movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” will be shown outside beginning at 9 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, the movie will be shown in Riverview Loung of the Lawrence Memorial Union.
A candlelight vigil will be held on the Main Hall Green following the movie to commemorate all those who are living with inadequate housing.