Tales from Shack City

One night, I found myself running to my home.

I had left my things outside, and rain was almost falling. Once I made it to my house, I had found it gone, my belongings gone with it.

My roommate at the time had moved our cardboard abode from the open elements to under the protectiveness of Pearson’s overhang.

This may seem like the beginning of a sad story, but these events actually happened.

I, along with other student volunteers, participated in Shack City, an annual event held on MC’s campus in which students live the homeless life for several days.

The event took place April 23-26.

Within those few days, I learned many truths about the ways of the less fortunate.

The first night that I spent outside, the box that another student and I had built was not finished because it lacked a roof and another wall to act as a door.

This night, it suddenly became colder than it had been.

My only protection from the cold was a blanket that I had brought and a few layers of clothes that I had worn.

That night, I only got one hour of sleep.

The volunteers simulated the hard life of the homeless by letting go of some of the luxuries that people our age usually take for granted, like showers, blankets and food.

The donations that we were given could be used to pay for these comforts, just as an actual person on the streets would.

We were also held to the same standards as other students; assignments were still due and tests were still given.

As I woke up that morning, I grabbed my backpack and headed toward the library.

That night, it was forecasting rain and temperatures not much higher than the night before.

That evening, a friend of mine had had enough.

He allowed me to stay inside and housed me for the night because he was concerned about my well-being.

As I lay in an actual bed that night, I thought about how compassionate some MC students can be when it comes to helping out their fellow peers in need.

Such good Samaritans are like angels to homeless people, just as my friend was to me.

When I came back the next morning to gather my things and talk to my companions at Shack City, many of them wondered where I had been.

That night, I returned to Shack City.

I realized that I had not raised much money at all, and several other volunteers did not raise too much either. However, where MC did not provide money, it gave much more.

Several students were at Shack City Wednesday night with their instruments to give company and entertainment to their friends.

I also noticed that the amount of food that was given was more than I imagined.

People in the cardboard city were given cookies, bread, platters, fruit, cake and more—enough to have a surplus by the end of the event.

Many people ended Shack City after Wednesday night, having raised just short of the $500 goal and more than adequate awareness about the world’s hungry and homeless.

Thursday evening, while several of the volunteers and I left for our comfortable beds, one man decided to stay for one more night.

No matter how hard some of us tried to convince him that Shack City was over, he refused to quit.

It just shows that people that are on the streets can stop being homeless within an instant.

They need our help to give them a house made of more than cardboard and duct tape.

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