Despite Ohio State’s recent dorm renovations and housing initiatives, at least 100 students will opt to be homeless Saturday.
OSU’s Habitat for Humanity is set to host its third-annual event, Shantytown. Students will use cardboard boxes and duct tape to create shanties to raise awareness about homelessness.
The mini city will appear on South Oval Saturday as participants compete for the title of superior shanty. Groups of four work together in order to create the most creative and architecturally sound structure.
“I’m no architect, so building a house out of cardboard boxes was quite difficult, but thankfully I had the help of my friends,” said Camille Baker, who participated in last year’s event.
Baker, a fourth-year in finance, and three teammates, including fourth-year political science major and OSU’s Habitat for Humanity executive member, Domonique Roseman, were last year’s champions.
“I wasn’t sure what I was getting into,” Roseman said. “I just knew it would be fun and raise awareness.”
The event was an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone, do something good for other people yet still have fun and spend time with friends, Roseman said.
The main focus of the event is to inform students about homelessness around the globe and in the Columbus area.
“It is important to address uncomfortable issues head on,” said Johanna Van den Berg, a fourth-year in city and regional planning and international studies and an executive member of OSU’s Habitat for Humanity.
The best way to approach these uncomfortable subjects is through exposure and education, Van den Berg said. The group has invited a representative from the YMCA Family Center and Mid-Ohio Habitat for Humanity to speak at Saturday’s event.
“Homelessness is an issue that many people have an opinion on, but few people are truly educated about,” Van den Berg said.
This year’s executive board focused on expanding the event, getting more people involved and in turn, raising more money, Roseman said.
“Ultimately, it’s something that’s good for mankind and it’s great exposure for the cause,” Roseman said.
There were five groups that competed in last year’s event, whereas this year has six groups signed up, although they hope for 20 groups by the day of the event, Roseman said.
“So many curious people passed us last year and asked what it was all for,” Baker said. “I encouraged everyone to become involved … Grab a group of friends, form a team and support a great cause.”
Shantytown takes place across the nation at both high school and college Habitat for Humanity chapters. The proceeds from OSU’s 2013 Shantytown will go to the YMCA Family Center to support their operations, Van der Berg said.
Shantytown is set to be held Saturday, which The Weather Channel’s website predicts to be a partly cloudy day, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the South Oval. Registration costs $40 per group, or $10 per team member, and closes one hour before the event.
An earlier version of this story stated that the Shantytown event had 20 groups signed up for the event. In fact, Roseman said the event had six groups signed up by press time, and OSU’s Habitat for Humanity hoped for 20 groups by the day of the event, expecting more to sign up Saturday.