The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday December 6th

Back in the shack: Carolina Blueprint raises money for local Habitat projects

<p>UNC students (from left to right) Emma Karlok, Allie Omens, and Elinor Solnick host the Epsilon ETA shack. Epsilon ETA raffled off various outdoor gear and sold succulents to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.&nbsp;</p>
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UNC students (from left to right) Emma Karlok, Allie Omens, and Elinor Solnick host the Epsilon ETA shack. Epsilon ETA raffled off various outdoor gear and sold succulents to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. 

UNC Habitat for Humanity is hosting their second annual Carolina Blueprint Shack-A-Thon to raise money for a local branch of the organization.

The week-long event invites campus groups to compete against one another to raise the most money to benefit the Orange County branch of Habitat for Humanity while living in self-built plywood shacks in The Pit. Participants began constructing their makeshift homes on April 8 and will take turns living in them continuously until April 14. 

“Our main goal is to engage all these different clubs and organizations from all over campus. We have ROTC groups, we have Greek groups, we have a business fraternity and a pre-health organization, just to name a few,” said Sarah Renfro, co-director of Carolina Blueprint. “We want to engage all these clubs in supporting the affordable housing cause in the Chapel Hill community.”

UNC Habitat partners with the Orange County branch to build houses in the local community and uses the proceeds from this specific fundraiser to build a house for a UNC staff member.

Though Carolina Blueprint has drawn criticism and accusations of trivializing homelessness in the past, Renfro said the purpose of having teams build and live in the shacks is to educate participants about affordable housing. Renfro also said increasing participants’ exposure to power tools and methods of construction encourages students to participate in future Habitat builds.

Each shack is required to be occupied by at least one member of a participating team during the day and at least two members from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Teams face a 25-point penalty if they do not adhere to this rule.

Carolina Blueprint operates on a point-based system, with each dollar raised earning the group one point in the competition. Participating organizations employ various methods to garner donations, including selling food, raffle tickets and, this year, succulents to willing students. Teams can also earn points by participating in trivia nights, having the best shack design and taking quality promotional photos of the event.

The three organizations with the most points at the end of the week earn bragging rights and the ability to keep a portion of their donations for their own philanthropic purposes. In 2017, Epsilon Eta, UNC’s co-ed environmental honors fraternity, won the competition.

Though primarily a Habitat fundraiser, Carolina Blueprint is also a social event for its live in participants, presenting a chance to connect with other students that they might not meet otherwise.

“It’s really cool that there are lots of different types of organizations participating, and so you get to meet some people that you might not otherwise get to know. The Naval ROTC shack is right beside us and Pi Kap is on the other side,” said Bailey Recktenwald, academic chairperson for Ep Eta and current Carolina Blueprint participant. 

Engaging students and community members about the causes of participating organizations is another exciting benefit of Carolina Blueprint, Recktenwald said when considering her experiences at the event.  

Samir Patel is a senior and NROTC participant in Carolina Blueprint. This is his second year participating.

"For us, this is a fun event, but for some people finding a stable housing situation is a big deal," Patel said. "We take it for granted, and this is an opportunity for us to reflect on how fortunate we are that we have a roof over our heads.” 

@gracelittle99

university@dailytarheel.com

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