On November 11, fourteen teams set out on the back quad to build and then sleep in shacks for Habitat for Humanity’s annual Shack Attack fundraiser.
“Shack Attack is meant to accomplish two things: the spreading of awareness about homelessness and the role it plays in America, and to raise funds to reduce costs for Habitat for Humanity houses,” said Talisha Beha ’12, president of Roanoke’s on-campus Habitat for Humanity chapter, and coordinator for the event.
Each of the fourteen teams consisted of four people. In order to participate, teams were required to raise $300, all of which went towards the funding of future Habitat for Humanity projects.
Teams were granted a ten by ten foot square on the back quad. They were also granted twelve hours, from noon to midnight, to build their shack. Up to 20 pounds of wood were allowed for building, but teams were not allowed to spend more than $20 in building supplies.
These limitations yielded some creative methods of building and warmth. Shacks were built out of everything from cardboard to outdated election signs.
The night was clear, yet very cold. In an effort to maintain shack warmth during the night, Team Earthbound broke a bale of hay in the interior their shack, and stuffed dry leaves in cardboard boxes to make up the walls of their shack.
“It was really cold making the shack but once we were inside surrounded by the hay it wasn’t too bad,” Stephanie Clements ’14 said. “The worst part was definitely the windâ€”we were all scared our shack was going to blow away!”
In addition to the construction of the shacks, the evening also featured a showing of Dark Days, a documentary which followed a group of people living in an abandoned section of the New York City underground railway.
“We added a few more educational activities this year and we hope to keep expanding the event next year!” said Beha.
Participants were able to warm themselves with a bonfire for part of the construction night, which many willingly utilized.
Besides trying to stay warm through the night, teams also competed with one another to win prizes in one of five categories. APO’s Love Shack team’s shack, adorned with hearts from wall to wall, was named the most creative shack; The Honors Program Hobos for Humanity team’s shack was named the most aesthetically pleasing; the Biology Builders team’s shack was named the most realistic shack; The Society of Physics Students’ shack was named the most livable for multiple nights; and the Earthbound team’s shack was named the most environmentally friendly. Each member of the winning teams was awarded a $25 gift card to a local business
In total, the event raised more than $4900 for future Habitat builds.
But for participants, the most valuable part of event for all was definitely the experience of living out in the cold for one night.
“It took our team of four people six hours to make a shack that was almost livable, and when we got up, almost all of our tape was coming undone and it was very easy to take down, meaning that those kinds of shacks are in no way permanent,” Eli Harrison ’14 said.
“It really was a good experience and made me more aware of a little bit of what it is like for countless homeless people around the country who may not even have the kinds of materials that we did to build a makeshift shack,” Clements said.