How can one get the feel of being homelessness? The social issues and community service clubs are hoping that by creating a box city students will learn about homelessness by experiencing it for a night.
Students will have the chance to sleep in a cardboard box overnight and learn about homelessness through a speaker and movies on Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.
“What I’d like students to get from this awareness and documentary screenings and discussions is to get people thinking about causes of homelessness and how the community can come together to reduce homelessness and hunger,” said representative Avi Springer who is responsible for bringing the Box City to Castleton State College.
Next to the Box City a college van will be sitting, awaiting food donations for the Stuff-a-van project. The community service club is hoping to fill the van, and then take the food to local food shelves, said community service club Vice-President Katie Sprowl said.
To recreate the feelings of homelessness, there will be a soup kitchen stimulation where participating students will be fed a meal that is akin to one served at soup kitchens. During dinner, Nikki Stone from the Rutland County Housing Coalition will talk about homelessness and issues surrounding it.
The clubs are also hoping to dispel misconceptions about the homelessness. They feel that the homeless are hard-working and “just need that extra bit of help,” Springer said.
Stephanie Johnson from the social issues club thinks that others believe that the homeless make a choice to wake up in the cold and if they really wanted to they could wake up in a nice warm bed.
“It’s a chance for students to see the other side of the coin,” Johnson said of the Box City. “Why would people wake up in a cold cardboard rather than be warm in bed?”
Although many people don’t notice, Springer and Sprowl were quick to point out that homelessness is a big problem in Vermont. Springer pointed out that 4,000 people in Vermont will be homeless at some point in one year in Vermont.
The members are trying to get awareness to students and to educate them so that people will change their perceptions of the homeless.
“It’s a huge problem in our society,” Sprowl said. “To be a good citizen you need to know about these things.”
Since November is homelessness and hunger month, both clubs are striving to get people to be aware of the issue with the Box City being the culminating event at the end.
The community service club will be serving a meal at Open Door Mission.
The social issues club picks a different question every month for their Voice Boards in the campus center and in the Spartan room at Huden. This month included a question about perceptions of homelessness in Vermont.
“It gets students to create a buzz,” Johnson said of the Voice Boards. “Just the fact that they are writing on it is important.”
As Johnson said, both clubs are hoping this event will “motivate others into grabbing the bull by the horns to do other projects.