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Seeking Shelter: WVU Tech Students Aim to Help the Homeless

WVU Tech students are participating in a Habitat for Humanity Shack-a-Thon, a week-long fundraising event that exposes students to some of the realities of housing insecurity.

Organized by WVU Tech resident assistants, Zach Carnahan and Dan Eisenberg, Shack-a-Thon is designed to raise cash donations for Habitat for Humanity and increase awareness around homelessness and housing insecurity among students as they spend a week with only some plywood or cardboard between them and the elements.

“In the United States, it is estimated that 48.5 million people are living in poverty and are struggling to find stable housing,” said Carnahan. “We just want to do our part to try to help these people.”

Participating organizations were given eight hours to build their shelters using only scrap wood, cardboard and tarps. Students are allowed no electricity during the event – although there are a few battery-powered radios – and shelters are manned around the clock.

“Of course we’re having some fun during the day or in between classes, but at night, or when it rains, it gets pretty real,” said WVU Tech freshman Robert “Ranger” Patterson. “Having to deal with this every day would be devastating.”

Other groups are chipping in, and local response has been positive. The WVU Tech theatre department donated old set materials that Phi Kappa Tau used to make their shack. A local family stopped by with cookies and spent time speaking with participating students.

Nearly 40 students from Phi Kappa Tau, Sigma Pi, WVU Tech men’s soccer and the WVU Tech wrestling team have participated in the event.

“Since we’re a small school, we thought it might be tough to get organizations to come out and participate. But so far, we’ve had a lot of students committed to the project,” said Eisenberg.

The event raised $40 in its first two days and students will be accepting donations until the closing ceremony on Friday, April 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Check out photos from Shack-a-Thon on the WVU Tech Flickr page.