Student volunteers raise money and awareness

Hut for Homes volunteers fundraise to alleviate homelessness

It is about 34 degrees and most students are inside staying warm, but outside there a is a group of about 12 Allegheny Students standing on either side of North Main Street. Even at midnight they waited outside, bundled up against the cold, holding outstretched blue and white hard hats to collect donations.

These students are part of the Huts for Homes initiative. They gave up their Friday night to stand in the cold and raise money for the homeless.

“It’s the best way to spend a Friday night,” said Kalyssa King, ’15, with a laugh.

King explained that the group that she was with would be staying to collect money until 1 a.m. She revealed that she volunteered to both fill service hours and contribute to a good cause.

“I donated because I’m in APO and a sorority,” explained King.

Domino’s pizza drivers stopped to give them donations and even gave pizza to the volunteers. Even a bus driver for the Loop stopped for the students to donate.

Despite the cold and the lateness of the hour, the volunteers were in high spirits.  “Huts for Homes” was shouted over and over again, echoing across the campus.

“If we don’t sleep, you don’t sleep, ” yelled one volunteer bouncing up and down in an effort to stay warm.

The conversations among the volunteers covered a wide range of topics from how much clothing everyone was wearing to the coming up with new cheers to draw in donations.

“If you have money for cups, you have money for huts,” shouted Dana Dorato ’15, at a large group of students as they came up the hill.

Not every passerby donated, despite the group’s efforts. When a large group of students made a point of changing direction to avoid passing the volunteers, the group called them out, shouting, “we know you are avoiding us!”

Those who did donate, however, even if it was just some spare change, were greeted with cheers from the entire group. Even the most reluctant donor couldn’t help but smile.

The Huts for Homes projects has raised between $3,000 and $5,000 in previous years. These funds are donated to organizations that work to alleviate homelessness explained Kushtrim Miftari, ’15, who helped organize the event.

Miftari explained that the event used to be organized by Habitat for Humanity, but interest in the organization faded last year.

“I think interest just kind of faded away and so after last year, after this event was done, the organization never met again and the old president graduated so there are no new leaders, so it kind of just faded away,” said Mifitari.

Miftari explained that the goal of the event was to raise money and awareness about the homelessness.

Part of the event included building a small shelter, which was done by event organizers and made out of basic materials.

“The purpose of it is to kind of see yourself as if you were homeless. To see what it is like for a day,” explained Miftari.

The structure was simple, constructed mostly of old shipping pallets, and a single brown tarp. The structure provides little real protection from the elements, but as Miftari pointed out, it’s more than many homeless individuals have.

The event ran from November 7 at 12 p.m. to Nov. 8 at 12 p.m., with various organizations volunteering their time, usually in one hour shifts.

“There is a lot of Greek organizations, there’s ARGO’s doing it, the swim team is doing it, there is a wide range of different organizations that are doing it,” said Miftari.

The students who volunteered their time spoke about giving something back to the community of Meadville, where homelessness is a problem.

Students noted that the event gave them the opportunity to volunteer for a cause that affects local community. “It’s just an easy way to give back and do a little more,” said Phil Hesch ’15.