University Relations and Communications

Students raise awareness of homelessness with concert, movie, a night in a box

September 22, 2009



Darcie Mohar, Student Activities Board, 657-2387
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


Outdoor concert by Needmore and showing of “The Soloist” are free and open to the public


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Come Thursday night, Montana State University Billings students will be done with their homework and settled down for a good night’s sleep.


Most of them.


A number of MSU Billings students will be using the evening as a way to raise awareness to the plight of the homeless through advocacy efforts, a free concert and a showing of the film “The Solist.” It’s all a part of “Box Town at MSU Billings,” a student-led effort to shed more light on the needs of the homeless, the work of Habitat for Humanity and positive efforts to make a difference.


Box Town events begin Thursday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in Peaks to Plains Park with pizza and informational booths. A free concert by the band Needmore is set for 7 p.m. followed by special speakers and the outdoor showing of the film “The Soloist” at 9 p.m., also in Peaks to Plains Park. The film, based on a bestselling book, looks at the interconnected nature of joblessness, homelessness and mental illness and stars Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.


Some students will then spend the night in the park in makeshift sleeping quarters made from cardboard boxes. Students who want to participate in the event are urged to bring their own boxes.


The event is co-sponsored by MSU Billings Student Activities Board, the Residence Halls Association, the Student United Way and the MSU Billings chapter of Habitat for Humanity. All events are free and open to the public.


Darcie Mohar, who is the Student Activities Board chair, said the mixture of events is designed to raise the level of knowledge of the issue of homelessness among college students.


“Our goal is to do more advocacy by raising the level of awareness,” she said. “This will be a fun time for an important cause.”


By all accounts, homelessness is a looming problem in the United States. According to a recent federal report, the ravages of the recession, including a surge in foreclosures and unemployment approaching 10 percent, have driven thousands of families onto the streets. Although the number of homeless individuals remained relatively stable between 2007 and 2008, the number of homeless families rose 9 percent, and in rural and suburban areas the number jumped by 56 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Mohar said that students who wish to be a part of the solution to this issue will find resources to channel their interest and talents.


For more information about Box Town at MSU Billings, contact Mohar at 657-2387.