Despite sub-freezing temperatures, CSU students showed up to the Lory Student Center Plaza en-masse last Friday night hoping to spend the night shivering in homemade cardboard box homes.
Sleep in Someone Else’s Box, an event hosted by the student organization Social Work in Action, drew a crowd of about 75 students and community members who gathered around the neighborhood of six box abodes, all decorated with markers and colorful cutouts, each of which housed a handful of students.
“We insulated the inside of our box with newspapers and other things to keep us warmer,” said Kelly Hennegan, a junior technical journalism major.
“We went dumpster diving for the boxes,” said Kelly Mason, a sophomore biology and Spanish major. “We have sleeping bags and trash bags filled with newspaper for pillows.”
Despite their vigorous preparations, only five residents braved the frigid air until 3 a.m., when they were replaced by five more students who stayed in their box fort until 11 a.m. Event organizer Kate Quillin said most other participants left at midnight.
Until then, however, volunteers offered participants granola bars and foot-warmers collected prior to the gathering, and kept everyone occupied with a few entertainment ensembles, including local rapper Josh Madry, who is otherwise known as Black Prez.
Lilly Berger, president of Social Work in Action, said the event was the biggest of the year for the organization and said the students and groups who participated, including Campus Crusade and Alpha Phi Omega, collected donations to raise about $900 from the community.
Senior natural resources and tourism major Becky Jorgenson said that she raised her money through announcements.
“I’m a part of Campus Crusade and we were supposed to raise about $245,” Jorgenson said. “We ended up raising about $100 by contacting people through Facebook, word of mouth, and meetings.”
All of the money raised will be donated to Homeless Gear, a nonprofit organization that collects camping gear to give to the homeless, Homeless Prevention Initiative, who gives money to homeless families and Alliance for New Humanity.
“We’re trying to create more of a partnership with the CSU community,” Quillin said.
Lauren Dixson, a junior social work major, said that in addition to fundraising, the demonstration helped create much-needed awareness about the Fort Collins homeless’ plight.
“We’re out here sending a message to students that homelessness is real in Fort Collins,” Dixson said. “Students are not aware of the problem.”
Quillin said several other major universities have put on programs similar to Sleep in Someone Else’s Box and said the local Plymouth Youth Congregation held the same type of event last December.
She emphasized that students can easily get involved in helping the homeless and preventing homelessness.
“Students can get involved through coalitions in churches, volunteering at homeless shelters and even following bills and contacting legislation,” Quillin said.
“There are so many empty houses and buildings that can be made into affordable housing, we just need to be more active in our legislation about fixing this problem.”
Staff writer Chloe Wittry can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.