As members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity chapter set up their cardboard shelter for the weekend, they knew what they were getting into.
Even with the threat of storms Friday night, the Kansas University chapter members were hoping to identify in some small part with the city’s homeless population — at least for 48 consecutive hours this weekend.
“It’s one of those harsh realities that those people have to be out there in the bad conditions regardless, so we’re going to stay regardless of what happens,” said Kris Nielsen, the TKE chapter’s community service organizer.
About 20 chapter members will work in shifts and stay in their cardboard shelter just outside the Hy-Vee at 3504 Clinton Parkway until Sunday afternoon. The group will be collecting canned items for local food pantries and donations for the Lawrence Community Shelter.
Nielsen, a former chapter president and Leawood senior, said it will be the third consecutive semester for the event. Members were hoping to surpass the 1,500 cans of food and the more than $300 they collected last semester.
Nielsen said chapter members know that many among the city’s homeless population live in harsher conditions, but TKE members hoped to identify somewhat with the experience as they try to provide assistance.
“We’re really getting the idea of what it’s like to be on the side and be a little neglected and not be treated the same as everyone else,” he said.