Habitat for Humanity: Shackathon

Written for the University Relations Press Release

Eight members of the Eastern Connecticut State University chapter of Habitat for Humanity slept outdoors in cardboard boxes for the annual “Shackathon” on Oct. 20–21. The event challenged participants to spend a full day outside — academic schedules permitting — sleeping in the elements and only eating donated food. The shackathon aims to raise awareness of homelessness and substandard housing.

“I give so much credit to the homeless,” said Kelvin Powell, president of Eastern’s Habitat for Humanity chapter. “They face so many challenges on a day-to-day basis. The willpower, the mental fortitude; they are easily some of the strongest people.”

Members Ellie Frankinburger ’18, Brian Tomlinson ’17 and Evan LaChance ’19 standing before their boxes the following morning.

A junior majoring in business administration, Powell said it was his third shackathon. He remembers last year’s event when temperatures dipped into the low 20s. “Last night felt like a summer day compared to last year,” he said. Still, with the cold season coming up and the challenges of finding food and shelter, Powell acknowledged that “it’s a hustle” for the homeless in the fall and winter seasons.

Other shackathon-ers did not find the night so pleasant. “It was a cold, long night,” said Brian Tomlinson ’17, a business administration major. At more than six feet tall, Tomlinson added, “My box was super claustrophobic.” Other participants reported waking up throughout the night, bothered by the rain and cold temperatures at 4 a.m.

Club members who participate in shackathon get preference for Habitat’s annual spring break trip, “Collegiate Challenge.” This spring, 14 members will travel to Wilmington, NC, where they will spend the week building houses for those in need. The shackathon is also a fundraiser, with proceeds going to the Windham chapter of Habitat for Humanity. More than $350 were raised this year.