Sleeping at home, showering and changing clothes are among the everyday comforts that four MU students are giving up this week to raise awareness about substandard housing. They will also try to raise $4,000 for construction of a Habitat for Humanity house.
Until Friday afternoon, Kelly Puppilo, Candace Revelle, Laura Winterscheidt and Kate Ervin — all executive board members of the MU chapter of Habitat for Humanity — are living in cardboard boxes on Kuhlman Court, in the heart of the MU campus.
The young women have been there since Sunday and leave only for classes, studying or work. They eat only if the food is donated to them.
Puppilo, treasurer of the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity, said the purpose of the annual Mini-Shack event is to make people aware of poor housing conditions, to get the word out about Habitat for Humanity and to raise money.
Habitat for Humanity is a program designed to make homes affordable for families that otherwise could not manage homeownership. Families are chosen to have homes built for them. With the help of Habitat for Humanity, they must complete 250 hours of labor on their home and another 250 hours on the next home their local chapter builds. They also have to fulfill a payment plan on their home.
MU’s chapter is sponsored by the University YMCA and works with the Columbia affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, Show Me Central. The MU chapter has about 20 active members and was formed in 1990. Puppilo said members hope to raise enough money to finance a complete house, which costs around $40,000. Mini-Shack is part of that fund-raising effort.
Donations of money or food can be made at the Mini-Shack location. Their goal is to raise $4,000 by the end of the week. Students can also receive information about becoming involved with the chapter.
“People have been really helpful,” Puppilo said. “They have been great with bringing food, blankets and money. They have made it bearable for us.”
This is the fifth year that Mini-Shack has taken place. In previous years, participants have endured heat, cold and rain. Puppilo said that participants last year were sleeping in standing water by the end of the week. She said this year’s group has been lucky so far with the moderate weather.
“It’s a beautiful week,” Revelle said, “but it still can be seen how horrible it would be to live in something that was not adequate.”