CMU students build ‘Cardboard City’ to raise homelessness awareness

Source: 9 & 10 News

A professor is teaching Central Michigan University students about homelessness in a way that they can truly understand the plight.

More than 100 students were in one place Wednesday night, seeking shelter from the cold in cardboard.

It’s to spread an important message.

Every year, students at Central Michigan University build “Cardboard City” next to the Park Library.

Some stay all night.

It’s a reminder that homelessness is real in the community and nationwide.

Cardboard City is exactly as it sounds, with students coming to CMU and erecting these cardboard houses, but behind them there is a much larger message.

“There is need in our community and I think for some students they don’t necessarily realize that until they are part of the conversation,” says Zachary Evans, Marketing and Public Relations for CMU’s Volunteer Center.

It’s a damp skyline of cardboard, scissors, blankets and CMU students all scrambling to build shelter.

“They are getting tape and other materials and then they are building a house that they might just spend a few hours in but some of the more dedicated students will actually spend the entire night, as well,” Evans says.

He also says it’s a simulation, a step closer to what being homeless feels like.

“It’s not just this being lectured in a lecture hall by a professor who may or may not have direct involvement,” Evans says. “They are learning what it’s like to be homeless.”

“From November 5 until April 10, we served 153 people who didn’t have that luxury of saying they get to go home,” said Ryan Griffis, director of the Isabella County Restoration House, during a candlelight vigil.

Griffis talked about the six years spent without a home, students listening, lit by candlelight.

Students feeling more empathetic to the plight of the disadvantaged.

“About a month ago, I went to a mobile food pantry and helped pass out food and that really sparked my interest more and I’m really excited for this,” says Maddi Kozlowski, CMU Freshman.

“Homeless people don’t really get a chance to decide when they get to go inside, so I thought that was already something meaningful,” says Maddy Kenne, CMU Freshman.

If you missed this event, there’s other ways you can help.

Zach says you can also donate clothes or other helpful supplies to the volunteer center or any local homeless shelter in your community.

That way, you are putting your hand into this large message.

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