LU students are great in the shack

Veronica DeVore

Lawrence’s Main Hall green turned into a temporary shantytown May 14-15 as students from 18 campus organizations came together to celebrate spring and raise funds for Habitat for Humanity. Despite the sometimes less-than-ideal weather conditions, Shack-a-Thon was well attended and numerous Lawrentians took advantage of the rare opportunity to “shack it up” on the campus lawn.
The Lawrence chapter of Habitat for Humanity has sponsored this event for the past four years and it has grown into a major fundraiser for the group. The overall goal of Habitat for Humanity is to provide simple, decent, affordable houses for those who lack adequate shelter. According to Habitat for Humanity International, the organization has built more than 175,000 houses since 1976, providing shelter for nearly 900,000 people worldwide. A Habitat house is built every 26 minutes, and Habitat affiliates exist in over 100 countries.
Organized through the university’s Volunteer and Community Service Center, Lawrence’s Habitat chapter participates in numerous projects with the Fox Valley chapter. The Lawrence chapter recently sent a group of 20 students to build homes in Myrtle Beach, S.C., over spring break.
The specific purpose of the Shack-a-Thon fundraiser is for Lawrence Habitat to eventually be able to sponsor a Habitat house. The group is well on its way; since its inception in 2002, Shack-a-Thon has already brought in over $13,000. Fundraising is not the only goal of the event, however.
“The idea behind Shack-a-Thon is to not only raise money for Habitat for Humanity, but also to raise awareness about the reality of some of the serious housing issues that we face as a nation,” said Brian Hilgeman, an events coordinator at the Volunteer Center. “We want to provide a fun atmosphere where students as well as members of the Appleton community can think about problems such as homelessness or affordable housing.”
A fun atmosphere certainly resulted from the participation of campus groups ranging from residence halls to Greek organizations to those focused on politics and student awareness. Each group earned the right to participate by making a preliminary donation to Habitat. Some of the most unique entries included Plantz Hall’s representation of local Muncheez Pizza, the Co-op/Greenfire/SLA shack held up by a grand piano, and Beta Theta Pi’s impressive structure with a front porch.
Unfortunately, creativity did not always guarantee sleeping comfort, and many shacks were abandoned in the early morning hours after a chilly night spent outdoors. Despite the harsh Wisconsin spring, Shack-a-Thon brought in about $3,700 for Habitat for Humanity.
“The event was a great success,” said Hilgeman. “We not only raised a great deal of money for the Habitat for Humanity group in the Fox Valley, we also raised awareness about the mission and purpose of Habitat for Humanity on campus as well as in the Fox Valley Community.