Habitat for Humanity Holds Annual Shantytown Fundraiser


Picture from Southside Habitat for Humanity Instagram account

AvaLyn Sexton, Co-Newspaper Editor

     Habitat for Humanity is a widely known nonprofit organization that encourages individuals and groups to help improve their communities, and to do good things for other people. While Habitat for Humanity is a club for many high school students across the country, Southside students can participate in some unique volunteer opportunities. Students, along with their advisor, create fun ways to fundraise to keep Habitat for Humanity helping those in need. The largest fundraiser for their chapter, Shantytown, took place on April 15th. During this event, participants build a small “home” out of limited supplies, and they sleep in their crafted shelter for an entire night. Students take advantage of this opportunity right in the Southside parking lot. 

     “Shantytown is a way to bring awareness to our community. There are people that are under circumstantial poverty or have fallen under difficult times, and we like to bring awareness to the homelessness issue we have in Fort Smith. Therefore, any money that we raise, we will use to build homes here in the River Valley to help people that have fallen in difficult times,” Southside Habitat for Humanity Advisor Juan Zermeno said. 

     Shantytown is a fun experience for those who choose to participate and sleep in the home they have built for a night, however, this year the event went a little bit differently than it has in the past. 

     “The most memorable part of Shantytown this year was the weather, which was rainy and windy. Many of the participants struggled with building their shanties. They also had the difficulty of having to sleep outside in the cold, and I believe they were able to build more empathy towards those that have fallen in difficult times,” Zermeno said. 

     While the process of building shanties this year may have been a little bit tougher than it has been in the past, students learned from the experience and had a great time throughout the night. 

     “It was a lot of fun trying to problem solve and build a little house that we could stay in that night. We had to be strategic with it because of how windy and cold it was. Many of other people’s forts were blowing away, but it was still a lot of fun to run around and hang out,” sophomore Eli Kareus said.

     Overall, Shantytown is a meaningful experience for Southside students involved in Habitat for Humanity, and their kind gestures and dedication to the community do not go unnoticed.