University Relations and Communications

MSU Billings students work on homeless and poverty awareness with annual 'Box-Town' event

February 9, 2009



The Rev. Kim Woeste, Campus Habitat for Humanity Advisor, 657-2165
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


County Commissioner Bill Kennedy participates in awareness challenge


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — It may be easy to overlook issues of homelessness and poverty while busily working on a college degree, but students and staff at Montana State University Billings are working to change that.


The MSU Billings campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity is organizing its annual “Box-Town” event, which encourages MSUB students to be proactive and aware of homelessness and poverty.  On Thursday April 2, the lawn of the MSU Billings main campus become scattered with cardboard boxes —  boxes that transform into shelter by night, housing an array of students and creating a powerful impact for people passing by.   


The event is intended to inform the uninformed about the severity of homelessness as well as how college students and members of the community can get involved with the issue and make a positive impact, organizers said.


As a part of that endeavor, Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy will be joining the students for to raise awareness of poverty issues.


“Box-Town” is one of the final events of the annual “Act, Speak, Build Week,” a week of activities devoted to service to Habitat for Humanity.  The campus chapter of Habitat, composed of around 20 students, will be collecting donations for Habitat for Humanity, and if the donations reached an amount of at least $2,000, Kennedy will also be required to sleep on the campus lawn in a box of his own. 


Community members can make donations with the shared goal of reaching that quota to see the county commissioner in a different circumstance.  The money raised through this fundraiser will be split between the campus chapter and a community-funded project for the homeless. 


“I would like to see the campus really aware,” said the Rev. Kim Woeste, director of United Campus Ministries and the university’s Habitat advisor. “Even if they can’t participate, they can engage in the information and we can get college students to care and to really make that connection between something important.”


The final day of “Act, Speak, Build Week” ends with a build day where community volunteers will spend the morning, afternoon — or both — working onsite at a Billings area Habitat house project. 


“It’s a week about advocating for Habitat, educating about homelessness and poverty in the U.S.,” said Hazel Todd, president of the MSU Billings campus chapter.  “Students get a taste of what it feels like to be homeless and live in poverty, and that’s what inspires them to want to make a difference.”


For information about donating or the event, contact Woeste at 657-2165 or