Nick Angelo slept well in his cardboard house. He wasn’t at all bothered by the patter of rain on his blue tarp roof.
Kayla Cochran, of Meadville; Samantha Key, of Freeport; and Savannah Grosch, of Warren; solicit donations during the Cardboard City event.
“Never heard it,” he said, stretching.
That’s too bad. The whole point of the campus’s annual apple-box encampment is to be inconvenienced, to shiver and sniffle and wish for one more shirt. To truly understand, if only for a moment, what it is like to be homeless.
The second goal is to get people’s attention. The cardboard shanties that appear on campus are hard to miss: The Psych Club’s shelter, set outside Turnbull Hall, was built with old research posters. One wall offered guests a lesson in “Sarcastic Intent.” The Theta Phi Alpha box house, outside Glenhill Farmhouse, was decorated with penguins.
As students passed, heading to class, Samantha Key, of Freeport, asked for donations. She had come prepared, with blankets, tarps, board games and chocolate.
“We’ll be OK,” she said. “Last year it was snowing, and cold.”
Seventeen student groups participated in this year’s Cardboard City program, which is sponsored by the Center for Service. They collected more than $1,200 for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania.
That money makes a difference: For every $1 that is donated, Second Harvest can secure $17 worth of food for local food pantries.
That’s reason enough to rough it, said Kara Steele, of Industry. She slept in the Alpha Sigma Tau house, which was built with help from members of the Triangle fraternity. They had a good spot, near the doors to the Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center. They also had a big refrigerator box, which made for a strong front wall.
The night was a trial, however. The wind blew the door open. The ground was hard and cold.
“Concrete is not forgiving,” Steele said, rubbing her back. “Not at all."