Left outside to sleep overnight in bitter, 30-degree temperatures Friday, Iowa Central Community College students were primed to Think Inside the Box.
The event, in its second year at Iowa Central, is conducted by the college's sociology students.
"People wouldn't think that (homelessness) occurs in a smaller city like this, but it occurs in even smaller places," Eric Alberts, sociology class president and coordinator, said. "We're just trying to raise the awareness that homelessness is still prevalent."
-Messenger photo by Brandon L. Summers
Henede Dorbor, an Iowa Central student, listens to music while resting in her cardboard box for Think Inside the Box. The effort, undertaken by the college’s sociology classes, is to promote awareness of homelessness and raise funds for the Beacon of Hope Shelter.
The problem is one that not only exists in Fort Dodge, but across the nation, according to Alberts.
"We're just trying to promote it and let people know that there are people out there who are homeless," he said. "Whether it's a social or financial reason, it's still a problem our county's facing."
The students, starting at 3 p.m. Friday, spent 14 hours outside, returning indoors after 5:00 a.m. today. With more than 150 participating, the effort represented more than 6,225 hours of community action.
Five different classes participated in the project.
All donations received benefit Beacon of Hope men's shelter in Fort Dodge. The shelter does not accept government funds and operates solely on donations.
"So far we've raised almost $5,000 just within our classes here at Iowa Central," Alberts said. "Currently, they're housing about 50 men. Since it's nonprofit, not government funded, it's all based off donations."
Alberts, participating in Think Inside the Box for the first time, said the night will "definitely be a test."
"We're all so used to living in such a comfortable environment," he said. "I don't think any of us would just choose to sleep out in the cold on any given day, but for this cause I think it's really going to test our endurance and patience and definitely our natural thermal ability."
To keep the evening lively, a box judging contest was held. Several students brought stylish, prefabricated boxes while others decorated and furnished their boxes.
"People submitted a registration form and they can design their box however they want to," Alberts said. "There are different prizes that are awarded, just to kind of bring more people in and give something back to the students who are participating."
The event took a party tone with games and live music, coffee and hot chocolate drink available, and students going to the nearby fast food restaurant for nourishment.