The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Habitating huts

Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

The sidewalk outside Kyle Field may look a little different on campus this week with a few additions to the plaza.
The Texas A&M Chapter of Habitat for Humanity is hosting its annual fundraiser to raise awareness for homelessness across the community. During Shack-a-Thon, students spend five straight days, 24 hours a day in housing structures they build themselves to open a conversation about homelessness and raise money to support Habitat for Humanity.
A&M Habitat for Humanity director of Public Relations and environmental design senior Hanah Lansford said this year, the event boasts 14 student organizations spending time in their shacks around Kyle Field.
“[Shack-a-Thon] demonstrates that livingconditions aren’t uniform, across the community or even across the world,” Lansford said. “To show that we need to make sure that we’re advocating for [legislation] to help housing as well as for raising funds like this organization is trying to do to help build pumps in our community.”
Canvassing outside Kyle Field, there are a variety of shack themes, decorated by each organization, including Bikini Bottom, Waffle House and Minecraft.
“It’s an amazing experience to see how other people are actually living, as well as you’re bonding with the people that you’re spending time with,” Lansford said. “There’s a lot of teamwork that goes into building, painting, decorating, making the shacks, coordinating who’s going to be there, all of those different kinds of things, as well as now we’re able to educate this large body of students that we have at Texas A&M.”
Participants in the event vary, including many freshman leadership organizations, such as Freshman Leaders Establishing eXcellence, or FLEX. Though it has been a few years since the organization has participated, engineering freshman Joseph Valenta said the group worked to plan and build its structure over Spring Break.
“We really worked hard to try to get it as cubical as we can,” Valenta said. “For having no experiences in the past, we did pretty good.”
Valenta said FLEX members have used the event as an opportunity to get to know one another on a deeper level. Members of the organization have also gotten to know fellow students who are participating with other organizations and those passersby who are interested in learning about the event.
“It’s also a cool event that Habitat for Humanity puts on that just helps to raise awareness about homelessness,” Valenta said. “Overall, it’s been a fun experience. You don’t get to build a lot in college, so it was a lot of fun to do that.”
Engineering freshman Jaden Gregg said the event has given his organization, Freshman Leaders in Progress, or FLiP, an opportunity to work together for a common cause.
“Shack-a-Thon is a great thing, because I love helping others. All the money that this goes into raising for Habitat for Humanity does a great thing,” Gregg said “It’s honestly a great team-building exercise for everyone and FLiP. As we worked, we worked on it for the course of four or five days, but together and all painting it and the teamwork that we had to use and the process and even bringing it here was all great for all of us.”
Throughout the week, Shack-a-Thon organizers host various events for participants and the community to gather for including special appearances by the College Station mayor Karl Mooney and the Yell Leaders, as well as movie nights and Nintendo Switch tournaments.
After the event, Lansford said some organizations choose to store their shacks for use in future Shack-a-Thons. For the remaining shacks, the wood will be repurposed to be used by the local Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Money raised from the event also goes to the chapter, which helps to build houses in the community for deserving individuals.
Editor’s Note: Emma Lawson contributed to this story.

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