Boxfest raises awareness despite fewer sponsors

Cardboard boxes dotted the Freshman Quad Saturday in a representation of homelessness for Boxfest, an annual event sponsored by the Hopkins chapter of Habitat for Humanity (HFH-JHU).

The money raised through donations and sponsorship will go directly to HFH-JHU to help cover the expenses of their construction project in the Sandtown neighborhood of Baltimore.

The event was “not exactly what we wanted, but we’re getting there,” said Jane Chisholm, leader of HFH-JHU’s on-campus fundraising committee.

The number of student group sponsors was lower than in past years, with only Stepping Stone Ministries, the Residential Advisory Board (RAB) and Lambda Phi Epsilon participating.

“We’re glad that three groups came out and cared, rather than 10 groups that don’t,” said Danielle Wray, a member of the on-campus fundraising committee.

“The event is mainly about awareness. Money too, but primarily awareness,” Chisholm said.

“We could have had a more elaborate set up with parents sponsoring boxes … but we wanted to get [the event] started first,” Wrey said.

Eventually HFH-JHU hopes to make Boxfest into an event similar to Relay for Life, an overnight fundraising event benefiting the American Red Cross.

Student groups, Greek organizations and sports teams were asked to sponsor boxes. Sponsors paid a small fee to have their group names on boxes.

Each group also had to display facts about homelessness, some of which were specific to Baltimore’s housing needs. Posting these facts was part of the awareness effort.

Additionally, sponsors had to ensure that at least one of their group members would be present at their boxes for the duration of the event.

For the Stepping Stone Ministries, this was the group’s first year participating in the event. Their box was decorated with blue streamers, orange juice containers and yellow-painted plastic cups glued to the box in the shape of a cross.

“It’s kind of sad that not more people came out,” said Candace Lee, a post-bac member of the Stepping Stone Ministries.

“We thought it would be a great campus event … we wanted to help raise awareness, especially in Baltimore, where there is a lot of need to help the poor,” she said.

Next to the Stepping Stone Ministries was the “Snakes in a Box”-themed RAB box. In addition to the green streamer “snakes,” the box sported a large green recycling logo, advocating Hopkins’s commitment to recycling.

“RAB supports community projects such as Habitat for Humanity,” RAB Community Advisor Cyurry Choi said.

RAB had previously participated in Boxfest by helping HFH-JHU to advertise the event, but this was the first year that the organization had their own box.

Elaborate construction was underway at the Lambda Phi Epsilon site. The group’s 10 members were listening to music as they constructed their box into a castle – complete with working drawbridge.

This was the brothers’ first time participating in Boxfest, but President Christopher Yook said it would not be their last.

“It’s fun. Our overall goal is to become more involved in events,” Yook said. “Homelessness is a problem in Baltimore, and when the weather gets colder … we want to help raise awareness,” he said.

Among previous fundraising projects, HFH-JHU held a Krispy Kreme doughnut sale and helped Phi Psi sponsor a Halloween Party on the Levering Plaza, all of the proceeds of which went to HFH-JHU.

While in the past Boxfest was held overnight on the Beach, this is the second year that the event has been held during the day.

“The problem was because it was getting cold. We didn’t want people to stay overnight. It’s something we’re considering for the spring,” said Kevin Park of the Education and Advocacy committee.

HFH-JHU hopes in the future to hold Boxfest twice a year – once during Parents’ Weekend and again during Alumni Weekend in the spring.

By hosting the event while parents and alumni are present, HFH-JHU hoped to show students in action and take advantage of extra people for donations.

HFH-JHU tried to increase the day’s events by holding its first ever box decorating contest.

Sponsors were granted 45 minutes to decorate their boxes. Afterward they were judged by HFH-JHU members and awarded a pizza party.

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