Camping for a Cause

Matt Hawkins
October 12, 2015


Ships, forts, yurts, A-frame tents and other cardboard creations filled Olin Quad for the annual Habitat For Humanity Shack-A-Thon poverty simulation and fundraiser.

“I love this event,” said Bradley Habitat For Humanity President Emily Matuszewski ’16, of Frankfort, Illinois. “I never expected this many organizations to come together for one thing like this. It makes me feel good knowing so many people care about what is going on in the community and that they want to support our work.”

Students from 20 campus organizations raised $850 as they spent a crisp October night under the stars for charity.

Even though the simulation lasted only one night, participants appreciated the learning experience.

“I wanted to learn what it’s like to put myself in somebody else’s shoes and experience how they live,” said Brandon D’Adam ‘17, a resident assistant from Justice, Illinois. “This situation really helps you understand what’s like to be homeless and made me realize how fortunate I am.”

The fundraiser is a favorite for third-year participant Nolan Gillies ‘17, of Washington, Illinois. Community service became more significant to him after he saw the region, including the University, rush to his hometown after a November 2013 tornado devastated much of the community.

“This is life-changing. It opens your eyes to the people around you who have needs,” he said. “This is a great hands-on activity where you feel empathy for people next door.”

Funds from the night will help families locally through Habitat’s Greater Peoria Area chapter. Habitat hosts build days each year and also runs thrift stores in Peoria and East Peoria.

“I never thought I would feel so warm when I’m donating, but then I see the progress,” Matuszewski said. “When I go to build days, I think my money could have gone to this. We’re just a small part of something bigger.”

Shack-a-Thon is one of many ways Bradley students give back to the community. During the 2014-2015 school year, students over $128,000 for 300 organizations.