Tennessee Tech students to experience a night of homelessness Thursday

While spring is a great time to pack a tent and crave a campfire hot dog, the thought of living in a cardboard box in weather foul or fair is less appealing.

Students at Tennessee Tech University will voluntarily see what a life of homelessness and hunger can be like by spending a night in Cardboard City on the campus’ main quadrangle Thursday, April 18.

TTU’s Office of Residential Life has teamed with the Cookeville Rescue Mission and the campus’ Habitat for Humanity organization to offer a glimpse of life on the streets that hits close to home.

“We are asking students to sleep in a box for one night, for those
who sleep in a box every night,” said Erica Hunt, assistant coordinator in the Office of Residential Life.

“Our mission is to raise awareness of homelessness by exposing students to the
problem first hand, but we also plan to give students the opportunity to
learn how they can make a difference.”

TTU’s Habitat for Humanity will collect canned food as well as tools to be used by volunteers building homes with Cookeville Habitat for Humanity.

For most students, the highlight of Cardboard City is building a house from cardboard, which is supplied. Students can bring their own duct tape, materials or decorations. There will be competition for the best constructed, prettiest and largest houses.

“Students who want to spend the night in their cardboard houses to experience what it might be like to
be homeless are welcome to do so,” said Hunt. Residential Life staff will be at the event overnight.

Cardboard City activities will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday and end at 7 a.m. Friday.

Participants will eat a meal typical of a soup kitchen, donated by local restaurants, and watch a short video about a man who lived at the Cookeville Rescue Mission. There will be activities in Memorial Gym, music by KISS FM 98.5 and time to watch “Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will Smith. All activities will move into Memorial Gym if weather conditions warrant.

Organizers are planning for more than 100 students, as the event has gained more supporters each year at TTU. This is the third year the Office of Residential Life has hosted the event on campus.

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