News

Lambda Sigma builds Cardboard City

Pictured above are the cardboard boxes that participants slept in overnight on the CFA lawn. A one night experience on the lawn was supposed to represent a lifetime of homelessness on the streets of Pittsburgh. (credit: Jesse Kummer/Photo Staff) Pictured above are the cardboard boxes that participants slept in overnight on the CFA lawn. A one night experience on the lawn was supposed to represent a lifetime of homelessness on the streets of Pittsburgh. (credit: Jesse Kummer/Photo Staff)

Last week, an event titled Cardboard City took place on the Cut to raise awareness about homelessness in Pittsburgh.

Every night, over 1000 people in Allegheny County find themselves without a bed to sleep in, according to a site created by the Carnegie Mellon Student Government Executive Branch. Homelessness is a problem both in Allegheny County and nationwide, with increasing numbers of individuals being put on the street due to job losses and foreclosures.

Hosted by Carnegie Mellon’s Lambda Sigma Honor Society, the event was open to the campus community, both individuals and organizations, to help raise awareness. A free event, students were able to spend a night in a cardboard box to experience what it feels like to be homeless.

“I thought it was a good way to raise awareness about issues that CMU students are usually insulated from," said Anna Goddard, a senior philosophy major and resident assistant.

According to the site, even if students are aware of issues such as homelessness, many do not know how to help. The information on the site made helping out very easy and manageable for students.

Another member of Lambda Sigma and a participant in the sleepover shared why this was an important event to hold: “It is raising awareness [of] homelessness and how it still is an issue today. Most people overlook or are not aware of the fact that there still are a lot of homeless out on the streets of Pittsburgh, close to our campus," said Christopher DiAndreth, a sophomore chemical engineering major.

Student Government meant for the event to be informative and humbling, reminding students that while they are busy and consumed with schoolwork and extracurricular activities, there are many other people out there much less fortunate than they.

The students were given breakfast the next morning, but were asked to leave laptops at home. Instead they brought sleeping bags, blankets, tarps, and other basic items that help in spending a night outdoors, though these are things that the homeless likely do not have.

Some students who could only spend a few hours at Cardboard City still supported the event by giving monetary donations that were directly given to a homeless shelter. To raise money, they raffled off items from local businesses and donated all proceeds from the raffle to Bethlehem Haven.

“I think it's a great idea in that everyone here on campus can get involved easily to help out and promote awareness and have fun doing so. For those who do sleep outside all night, it will be a reminder of how lucky we are to have a room, a bed, etc., everything that gets overlooked in our daily lives,” DiAndreth said.

Other Cardboard Cities have been constructed to raise awareness about the homeless in places like Chicago, Illinois, and Mobile, Alabama, where the project was founded. The title Cardboard City comes from the name of an area of cardboard boxes near Waterloo Station in London, England, in which homeless people lived from 1983 to 1998.

If interested in learning more about the event and getting involved in helping this cause, contact Julia Hanby at [SLANT12]jhanby@[SLANT12] or Robert White at [SLANT12]robert.p.white@gmail.com[SLANT12].