As the temperature drops, the time we spend indoors rises. That seems logical enough. But what happens to people who have no homes to turn to as winter approaches? This is a problem we, as students at the College, stuck in our suburban ‘Ewing bubble’ very seldom see or worry about. To raise awareness about homelessness in America, the College’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity held their second annual Sleep Out to Speak Out Against Homelessness.
Sleep Out to Speak Out Against Homelessness can be described as a simulation of the struggles a homeless person has to face. It consisted of all students involved spending a night outside, sleeping in shelters made out of cardboard boxes and only eating food given to them by other students.
According to Craig Cedermark, president of the College’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the event was considered a success for the group.
Cedermark said between group members and other people who wanted to participate, there were about 15 people sleeping out that night despite the harsh, 34-degree weather.
While the event is considered more of an awareness builder than a fund-raiser, the group raised about $100 in donations.
Also, whatever nonperishable food was given to the students was donated to a shelter.
“The sleepout gives people on campus a bit of perspective as to what people have to go through on a day to day basis,” Cedermark said. “It also helped us get the word out that there is a chapter on campus. We even had people who were not in the club before sleep out.”
In addition to being an awareness builder, the event is seen as a morale builder for the organization. “It brings the club members together and fosters the club spirit,” Cedermark said.
“It was tough to be out in the cold for that long, but it really gives everyone who’s out there a sense of why we’re in Habitat.” Laura Gianella, former president and present member of Habitat for Humanity, said.
Gianella explained that she was “really impressed, although not surprised, about how far the club has come and is continuing to go.”
Habitat for Humanity also sponsors other events to fight homelessness. Site visits and Bike and Build are two major ways in which the organization works to create better housing situations all over the country.
At site visits, members physically help build or fix houses. According to the College’s chapter’s Web site, tcnj.edu/~habitat/, these houses are sold at no profit to partner families. The homeowners’ mortgage payments are then used to fund more site visits.
The College’s chapter has upcoming site visits scheduled for Nov. 20 and Dec. 4. Also, members of the club will be heading to Chatham County, NC from Jan. 9 to 15 for a site visit.
Habitat for Humanity is also closely linked with Bike and Build, an organization of people who bike across the country to raise money and build houses in the same spirit as the Habitat for Humanity organization.