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Ohio State students aim to raise money for homeless by sleeping in boxes

Some Ohio State students spend their Friday nights shivering while waiting in lines outside of clubs, but students participating in Cardboard City are set to spend the night trembling in cardboard boxes on the Oval.

Sixty-five OSU students are registered to participate in the Cardboard City event, which aims to give students a better picture of the effects of homelessness and poverty by spending a night sleeping in cardboard boxes on the Oval, said Daniel Zimmerman, a second-year in microbiology and the president of Buckeyes Against Hunger.

The organization, which organized Cardboard City, raises money for local people who are fighting poverty.

“A lot of people don’t realize how prevalent it is because we do not see it a lot on campus, but there really is a lot of poverty in the Columbus area,” Zimmerman said.

The students who are participating in Cardboard City are also set to hear from speakers and engage in activities throughout the evening, Zimmerman said.

“The participants are going to be sleeping in a cardboard box all night this coming Friday so that they can experience homelessness first-hand,” Zimmerman said. “There will also be a speaker from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank and activities throughout the night to generate some more information about homelessness.”

An example of one of these activities is a mock soup kitchen setup, which will give students the experience of having to go to a soup kitchen for dinner, Zimmerman said.

The leaders of Buckeyes Against Hunger, which was formed in August, generated the idea for Cardboard City from doing similar events in the past.

“A couple of us who formed the executive team actually had a similar event at our high schools back home,” Zimmerman said. “We thought it would be a really cool thing to bring it to Ohio State with so many undergraduate students, and so many people to get involved.”

Each student is required to raise at least $25 in order to participate, Zimmerman said. So far, there are 65 people set to participate.

The event cost approximately $400 to organize, which was spent on promotional materials such as fliers, drinks and giveaways, Zimmerman said in an email.

Buckeyes Against Hunger was able to receive other items such as boxes, tarps and food donated from various sources, Zimmerman said.

“Our biggest sponsor has been Noodles & Company,” Zimmerman said. “They are actually sponsoring over $1,000 worth of product to help do our soup kitchen.”

The Buckeyes Against Hunger plan to raise approximately $1,700, which will be donated to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, where it will be used to purchase food items to send to soup kitchens and shelters in 20 counties in central and eastern Ohio.

Friday’s forecast calls for temperatures that are expected to drop below 40 degrees and a chance of rain, according to the Weather Channel.

These conditions will not affect the plans of Buckeyes Against Hunger.

“Unless it is pretty crazy weather, we are going to go,” Zimmerman said. “If it’s raining a little bit, we are going to proceed. Our theory is that people who are homeless don’t get to choose when and when not to sleep outside.”

Participants are encouraged to bring a lot of clothes to stay warm and will be provided tarps to protect themselves from rain, Zimmerman said.

The leaders of Buckeyes Against Hunger chose late November when they planned the event so that it was close to Thanksgiving.

“It is really a neat time to kind of reflect upon the things that you are thankful for … It really is an eye-opening thing and helps you realize the things you often take for granted,” Zimmerman said. “It is a neat realization to have around the holiday season.”

Samantha Donermeyer, a second-year in psychology who is registered to participate in Cardboard City, heard about the event because she is a member of Buckeyes Against Hunger.

“Homelessness and hunger in general is everywhere,” Donermeyer said. “It is going to be a really good way to open up my eyes and other people’s, too, about why we should care about it.”

Some students feel they have a responsibility to help fellow Columbus citizens in need, and Christine Snowden, a second-year in animal sciences, said this responsibility is often forgotten among college students.

“We need to be more aware of the situations that are going on all around us,” Snowden said.

She said she thinks this event will help her appreciate the smaller things in life that can be taken for granted.

“I hope that I gain a more keen sense of how lucky I am to be in the life that I have and getting the education that I am and having food on the table and not having to worry about where the next meal is coming from or where I am sleeping that night,” Snowden said.

Students are scheduled to reflect on their experience Saturday morning before the event is over, Zimmerman said.

“It will be very challenging, emotionally, mentally and even a little physically, so we really want them to have an understanding that what they experienced was just one night,” Zimmerman said. “The people we work to raise money here go through it every night no matter the weather and they don’t have an option to do it.”

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