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FHSU students raise poverty awareness




Special to The Hays Daily News

This week at Fort Hays State University, a group from Leadership 310 will be raising poverty awareness, appropriately deemed "Poverty Awareness Week."

The group, made up of freshman Nathanael Holand, sophomores Kelsie Erlenbusch and Michaela Sasse, junior Brenna Johnson and senior Alyssa Peppiatt, decided to pursue poverty awareness at Johnson's suggestion after she saw poverty in Haiti this summer.

"She realized there's poverty in our own backyard, and we need to do something about this as students. Our student population is not aware of this," Peppiatt said.

So they dedicated a whole week to raising awareness about poverty not only in other countries but also in Ellis County.

They have given themselves the name "Below the Line" because they are raising awareness of those living below the poverty line.

To start the week off, Below the Line encourages people to eat at Gambino's Pizza or Freddy's from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity in Hays. Tuesday, they will be promoting the week in the Memorial Union. They'll have various statistics to share.

Wednesday is movie night in Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. "1 Dollar A Day" will show at 7 p.m. and is free to students and the public. It is a 30-minute documentary of four men who went to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and lived on the street with the Haitians. It's called "1 Dollar A Day" because the men lived on $1 a day just like the Haitians.

"It kind of inspired our project, too," Peppiatt said.

The group will fork the quad Thursday. They will fill the quad with plastic forks stuck in the ground and statistics about poverty.

"Friday is our big event to top off the whole week, and that's Shack City," Peppiatt said. "(Students) can live in a box, they can live in a hay bale shack. ... We're just expecting creativity."

Shack City will be located in the Quad, and students will spend the night in their homemade shacks.

Below the Line is hoping to give students a glimpse of what it's like to live in poverty.

"That's like the reality check for us. ... They have the opportunity to get a glimpse of poverty that night," Peppiatt said.

There will be a while night of events from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. including games, a concert and an award for best shack. Teams need to register prior to the event, and it costs $10 per team. All of the proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity.

"Nobody should live in a box," Peppiatt said. "We're all really concerned with that global issue, the aspect of it, but it's in our own backyard. There's people here in Ellis County that are living in poverty, and we've got to do something about it."