In the 21st year of an event that originated on the NC State campus, the Caldwell Fellows are as active as ever in Shack-A-Thon, a week-long effort to raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity.
The Caldwell Fellows, a group of students selected to participate in a leadership and service scholarship program and the founders of Shack-A-Thon at NC State, have a long track record of raising significant funds for Habitat for Humanity during the event. “There isn’t one year where we weren’t in the top four fundraisers,” says Brian Schuster, the coordinator for the Caldwell Fellows team.
For one week, this year from Sept. 23 to Sept. 29, teams formed by different student organizations on campus live in shacks built around the Brickyard and compete to raise money. Participating teams can also compete in various events throughout the week, such as scavenger hunts, to raise awareness about Habitat for Humanity’s mission.
While Schuster says most teams panhandle to earn donations from students passing through the Brickyard, the Caldwell Fellows are branching out to more professional fundraising this year.
“We’ve started, for the past few weeks, going to alumni and parents and students to reach out and ask for donations,” Schuster says. “We’re also planning a raffle and a cookout to raise money as well.”
Melvin’s, a hamburger joint on Hillsborough Street, donated a trip to Cancun as the grand prize for the Caldwell Fellows’ raffle last year as well as coupons to their restaurant for the team to pass out in the Brickyard. Schuster says he hopes his team, which sold 815 raffle tickets to 132 students last year, can encourage even more businesses to make donations this year.
The Caldwell Fellows team raised $2,400 during the 2011 Shack-A-Thon event, and now aim to double that total. “Our goal is to be number one and to do that we need to pass the College of Management, which usually takes first place,” Schuster says. “Last year they raised $4,000 so we want to pass that.”
To contribute to Habitat for Humanity through the Caldwell Fellows, visit their website.
With 17 student organization teams competing in this year’s event, the NC State chapter of Habitat for Humanity has increased the overall fundraising goal for Shack-A-Thon to $25,000. Schuster says the money students raise is used efficiently.
“There are a lot of people who can’t afford houses, but Habitat is giving them a leg up, not a handout,” he says. “It’s a way to prop people up, but they’re doing things for themselves in the long run.”
Schuster, who has participated in Shack-A-Thon for the past three years and has served as an officer for the NC State chapter of Habitat for Humanity, says the event has always been well received by the campus community.
“A lot of people really enjoy it because it brings spirit to the Brickyard, and hopefully it helps people become more aware of the issue of substandard housing,” he says. “It’s an issue that’s present not only in other places but here in Wake County as well so it’s important to keep that in mind.”
— Jamie Gnazzo
The Caldwell Fellows program is an intensive leadership-development scholarship program that was created by the Alumni Association to honor the legacy of Chancellor John T. Caldwell.