Oklahoma Chapter raises awareness at Shack-A-Thon

26 October

DELTA KAPPA (Oklahoma) — One student group on the University of Oklahoma South Oval Tuesday morning had a guitar player strumming for attention; another brought a pair of Yorkshire terrier puppies.

You just can’t say no to that face,” Domonick Cavallo (Oklahoma ’11) said as he held a puppy inside a small red pail.

He was one of many OU students who took turns filling the South Oval for Shack-a-Thon, an annual event that raises funds for Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity. They started before 8 a.m. Tuesday, building makeshift shacks out of straight and boxed cardboard, wood and other materials, and asking passers-by for donations to Habitat for Humanity with mid to high levels of intensity.

Tracy Curtis, the agency’s executive director, said the annual event “is crucial” for her agency. Shack-a-thon last year raised more than $6,300.

It takes $70,000 to fund a house and in today’s economic environment, it’s really hard to raise that amount of money,” Curtis said. “So for the students to work together on this is very important. It’s really empowering and the money will stay here in this area to help families.”

Some students like Cavallo, an OU freshman and Norman North graduate, use gimmicks like his puppies to draw more attention — and donations.

“People come over and they give one a little pat, which makes them feel connected to the puppy and then we want them to give,” said Cavallo of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.

Some shacks were cardboard boxes assembled together, other students nailed plywood or pieces of wood together to make sure the shack wouldn’t blow down on them. Members of the American Institute of Architecture Students raised the level of, well, architecture by constructing a sturdy house entirely of bamboo, twine and recycled cardboard.

“Nothing was bought; everything was found or cut down,” said Trent Still, the Oakland, Calif., freshman who designed the structure.
Regardless of how students made their shacks or asked for donations, Curtis said the event educates students and onlookers on what her agency is about. Blue signs with facts on homelessness and inadequate housing were planted around the South Oval’s grass perimeter throughout the Shack-a-thon event.
“It allows a younger audience to gain some awareness for the mission of Habitat for Humanity, and that is to eliminate substandard shelter from the face of the earth,” Curtis said.

Full article by James S. Tyree, The Norman Transcript

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