Cardboard City event raises awareness for national Hunger and Homelessness Week
Rain, wind and the cold didn't stop students gathered on the lawn of the Charles V. Park Library to participate in the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center’s annual Cardboard City.
The event started at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18 and ended the next day at 7 a.m. Students were challenged to spend the entirety of the night with nothing but a cardboard box to shield them from the elements. The event was used to raise awareness for the national Hunger and Homelessness week that is recognized the week before Thanksgiving each year.
“Our goal is not to imitate anything or prove that we are experiencing something a homeless person would experience. It is more to show that advocacy about what is happening in the community with homelessness and encourage the communication," said Mackenzie Price, Marketing and Public Relations Program Manager for the Volunteer Center.
Students also included statistics pertaining to homelessness, foster care and hunger on their boxes to help raise awareness.
“Mount Pleasant and Isabella County itself is one of the most impoverished counties in Michigan," said sophomore Nicole Morley. “There really is a lot going on around here like the food drives, you can even see people going through the recycling to collect cans just to get some extra money. It is just those little things we don’t notice as much because we are so busy with our day-to-day basis, but if you look around at the statistics and families and their average income levels it is really prevalent."
In 2014, Isabella County had the highest poverty rate in Michigan at 32.1 percent. However, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the percentage would be closer to 18 percent if CMU students that lived off-campus were not taken into account.
"Homelessness can kind of be broadened into not just not having a home, but not having the necessities you need to live. There is a lot of people living below the poverty line in Mount Pleasant.”
-senior Lauren Lynn
At the estimated 18 percent, Isabella County would be close to 31 on the list for poverty rates instead of 1 out of Michigan’s 83 counties.
“Homelessness can be living without a home, but it can also be living without different luxuries”, said senior Lauren Lynn, Onsite Service Student Coordinator for the event. “Some people aren’t getting enough food every night, some people aren’t getting the electricity and heat that they need. Homelessness can kind of be broadened into not just not having a home, but not having the necessities you need to live. There is a lot of people living below the poverty line in Mount Pleasant.”
Andrew Hutchinson, a freshman from Shepherd, said he participated in Cardboard City because of the honors program Personal Development Project.
“The category that I am doing for this (PDP) is exploring diverse ideas within our community. Homelessness is definitely something that needs awareness and this somewhat resembles that," Hutchinson said.