Some Fort Smith Southside students are getting a taste of what it is like to be homeless.
The students paid $10 for the learning experience, a chance to spend the night in a makeshift shelter made out of cardboard, tape and plastic sheets. The Shanty Town was erected on the front lawn of the high school and was organized by the school's Habitat For Humanity chapter to help raise money and awareness for the plight of the homeless.
"We have so many kids who are so excited to do it, and you can see behind me they're all building their shanties," said Southside student Elise Everly. "I'm really glad we get to do this and raise awareness in the student body and in the community, as well."
This isn't the first experience for some of the students.
"They come to the house building and paint houses, they've laid flooring and they've shingled houses," said Debbie Everly of Habitat For Humanity.
Student Anna Bragg said the experience is important to remind people that what the Southside students are doing for a few hours or overnight is being done by homeless people every day.
"It's not just a foreign thing; It's here," Bragg said. "It kind of hit home. It's going to get into people's hearts. There are people in our town right now who have to deal with this weather. It's not a rare thing. It happens all the time.
"People are going to get a lot out of it. I hope they do."
Shanty Town is not just about raising awareness but is also about raising money. You can help the students by dropping off donations at the high school Saturday evening or before the event ends Sunday morning.
"Their goal is to raise $10,000," Debbie Everly said. "They've already raised $8,000 before the event has even started."