New cardboard ATO house raises awareness at Marshall

Dec 7, 2009

A Marshall University fraternity became “homeless” for the day to raise awareness and money for the Huntington City Mission.

Members of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity created a makeshift house out of cardboard boxes and a tarp and spent Thursday night living in it.

Andrew Brown, junior international affairs major from Hurricane, W. Va., said the goal was to raise awareness for the problem of homelessness in Huntington.

 “I’m not sure if it’s an epidemic problem, but students do see it on a daily basis,” Brown said.  “You’re always going to have someone come up and ask you for money.”

Members of the fraternity arrived at the Memorial Student Center Plaza at 6 a.m. Thursday and planned to stay until early the next morning.

“The purpose is for us to be homeless for a day,” said Sam Worthy, freshman business major from Huntington.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 3.5 million people are estimated to experience homelessness in a given year.  The coalition estimates 1.35 million of these people are children.  The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated that over 1,500 people experienced homelessness in West Virginia in 2005.

Alpha Tau Omega members also raised money to donate to the city mission.

“As a chapter, we do group community service hours with the city mission,” Brown said.  “We actually go there and help them every semester. Especially right now, with the holiday season, they need all the help they can get.”

Members of the fraternity said the problem of homelessness in Huntington should be taken seriously.

“It’s not super bad like in huge cities, but we do have a homelessness problem in Huntington,” Worthy said.

“It’s definitely more of a prominent problem here than in other parts of West Virginia,” Brown said.

Brown said the fraternity’s main focus for the day was to make Marshall students aware of the issue.

“We are trying to raise awareness and trying to get as much money as we can to give to the mission,” Brown said.

Brown said he did not arrive at the plaza until 11 a.m.

“A couple of the guys have been here since six and they’re in there bundled up and freezing,” Brown said.

Fraternity members said to be physically homeless for the night would be the best way to raise awareness.

“We’re trying to put ourselves in their shoes,” Worthy said.


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