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Shack City to be built Saturday

Meghan Wons | Friday, April 28, 2006

Notre Dame’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity will challenge students to think inside the box this Saturday at its third annual Shack City event. Founder and former president of Habitat for Humanity International, Millard Fuller will speak at 8 p.m. Saturday night on South Quad.

In an effort to raise funds for and awareness about the two billion people worldwide who live in substandard housing, Notre Dame Habitat for Humanity co-president Ryan Iafigliola said participants will give up the comfort of their beds to sleep in cardboard boxes on South Quad. Students will write quotes and statistics about poverty on the boxes to aid in the educational component of this unique event.

Shack City was designed with the intention to educate, advocate, raise funds and allow students to experience a night without shelter.

Entertainment provided by Notre Dame’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity will encourage fellowship among participants.

Iafigliola explained the hope for the future inherent in the event.

“Students at Notre Dame are going to become doctors, business executives, politicians, and other leaders of the future,” Iafigliola said. “If we can plant a seed with these leaders of tomorrow, then we are one step closer to our goal. But we also hope they can see that there’s so much they can do today.”

Fuller’s participation in Notre Dame’s Shack City 2006 makes this year’s event even more highly anticipated than it has been in years past. Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976 with his wife, Linda. He is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

“Millard Fuller has traveled literally around the world to inspire thousands of Habitat volunteers, packing churches and auditoriums everywhere he goes,” Iafigliola said. “In January, when I invited him to our campus chapter’s event, he was immediately excited about the possibility. We actually chose the weekend for Shack City based on when he could visit.”

Iafigliola encouraged students to go hear Fuller speak, no matter what their interests or inspirations.

“Fuller is a unique and remarkable mix of entrepreneurial genius, social-action visionary and passionate man of faith,” he said. “It has always been his Christian faith that has inspired him. Literally everyone has reason to go hear him.”

Habitat for Humanity is based upon what Fuller has described as “the economics of Jesus.” Habitat’s no-profit, no-interest economic philosophy stems from Exodus 22:25, which calls those lending money to the poor to neither charge interest nor act as creditors. Habitat homeowners are partners in the Habitat homebuilding process. They typically invest 500 sweat-equity hours into their home and then pay for the cost of the home at no profit and no interest.

About 200 people have already registered online for Shack City, and walk up registration will be allowed on Saturday evening, Iafigliola said. Everyone is invited and encouraged to come hear Fuller speak, even if they cannot participate in the camp-out.

Habitat is currently a little over $1,000 shy of its $5,000 fundraising goal and is asking Shack City participants to obtain a minimum of $5 in pledges to support its cause.

“Fighting poverty takes personal sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and rewarding – just ask anyone who’s ever worked on a Habitat house project,” Iafigliola said. “I hope Shack City is not an end, but rather a spark for serving others. Let’s not just talk about fighting poverty – grab a hammer. But first … let’s sleep on it.”

Shack City is just one of several Habitat sponsored events this week. The successful Keenan-Habitat Muddy Sunday Volleyball Tournament held last weekend served as a kickoff for the week. The official dedication of the 12th student Habitat house and a year-end celebratory luncheon with some of Habitat’s supporters will conclude the week of advocacy and action.