Students build cardboard houses to raise awareness for homelessness

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After thinking outside of the box to build shelters both aesthetic and practical, students slept overnight on campus for the annual cardboard campout Friday.

The event was organized by the service branch of the Dixie State University Student Association to raise awareness for homelessness. Students donated canned foods to benefit a local food bank and using only cardboard, string and duct tape, they built their own shelters for the night.

Designs ranged from elaborate castles to makeshift shacks, but no matter how much time and effort was put into each hut, students said the event gave them a better appreciation of what homeless people go through on a nightly basis.

The film “The Pursuit of Happyness,” was also shown on a large outdoor screen while students finalized their shelters. 

John Holfeltz, a junior communication major from West Jordan, came prepared with cardboard he collected at local stores before the event. He built a cardboard castle complete with a retractable drawbridge and flag with the help of his friends.

“I wanted to go all out,” Holfeltz said. “I’m into camping and building stuff, so I really wanted to put all my passion into this castle.”

Holfeltz said sleeping outside gave him a glimpse of what it may be like to be homeless.

“Knowing I am only doing this for one night makes it a lot different [than being homeless] every night,” Holfeltz said. “It’s good DSU has an event like this to raise awareness [for homelessness].”

Jazmin Bybee, a freshman education major from Layton, built thick walls for her shelter with several layers of stacked cardboard boxes because she said she was worried it would collapse in the middle of the night.

“We did the best we could to build the strongest house possible,” Bybee said. “[The cardboard campout] definitely taught me about what people who are homeless have to go through and that they need help.”

Dillon McKinney, vice president of service for DSUSA, said the purpose of the cardboard campout is for students to show off their creativity, maintain a longstanding tradition at DSU, and to remember what homeless people have to go through.

“A lot of times, we forget everything we really have,” McKinney said. “The main goal for this event is to remind [students] that even though they may have struggles, many people around the world are without a bed and food. We have a lot to be grateful for.”