Keene State College’s own fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon, also called TKE, did their part in giving back to the community with a project they called “TKE in a Box.”
The four night, four day event began late Sunday, October 18 and continued on through Thursday, October 22. On the lawn of the L.P. Young Student Center on campus, TKE brothers hosted a 24 hour food and money donation drive for students, faculty and community members that walked by.
The cause they were raising awareness for: homelessness.
Daniel Keady, KSC student and Histor for the TKE fraternity on campus, said that he really wanted to get people thinking about the homeless epidemic that is so prominent in the town of Keene.
Keady said, “Many people associate Keene as a well-off, wealthy college town. However, there still is a fairly saddening number of homeless individuals in this area.”
TKE in a Box partnered up with the Community Kitchen, a soup kitchen in Keene, as well as Hundred Nights Shelter in Keene and Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital to put the event together.
“We created a structure out of two-by-four framing, six feet tall, eight feet long and eight feet wide,” Keady said, “Everything we needed was donated from Home Depot – the wood, the nails, the cardboard.”
When asked what was inside the box, Keady explained simply, “Brothers are inside the box.”
Keady said that for the four days the box was up, there was always at least one brother inside the box and one at the table in front to collect donations in the forms of canned food and money.
The canned food went to the Community Kitchen and the money went towards both Hundred Nights Homeless Shelter and Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
“We’re sleeping here the entire week. Homeless people don’t get the option to control what weather or environment they’re sleeping in, so, we’re having multiple brothers every single night. The homeless don’t get a say in where they sleep, we can rough it out for one week,” Keady said.
The tagline of TKE in a Box, written on the box and posted at the collection table, read “I eat well, I sleep well, I’m raising money for someone who doesn’t.”
TKE brother Joshua Poloski added, “It may not be the same, living on the Student Center lawn with our blankets and our pillows, but we’re putting ourselves out in the elements. We want to prove a point that these people need help and we’re here to help them. We’re starting a conversation on campus.”
Poloski continued, “The homeless population is more or less shunned. When you’re walking down Main Street and someone asks you for money, it’s become so routine over the years to just ignore these individuals.”
Poloski explained that the whole point of TKE in a Box was to make a visual display. “Someone on this campus wants to help. We want to do something,” Poloski said.
When Delta Phi Epsilon’s KSC president Kaitlin Richotte first heard about TKE in a Box, she said she thought it was a wild concept.
“When I was told that brothers would be staying in [the box], I thought no way, that’s crazy! What if it rains or it’s freezing out?” Richotte said, “But I also knew that when TKE has an idea, they go for it, and no matter what obstacles come in their way, they always end up achieving what they want.”
Richotte said that the brothers showed great determination with how they toughed out the days they spent in the box.
“When the nights were tough because it was pouring rain, or freezing I would always wonder, is this going to be the last night, are they going to be done with this now? But no matter what the conditions were they always stayed in the box,” Richotte said.
Richotte continued, “I absolutely loved this idea. TKE has so many brothers who are really creative and I think it showed in this. What I loved the most was that not only were they trying to raise awareness about homelessness, which is a serious problem, but they were also raising money for their philanthropy, St. Jude’s Children Hospital, as well as asking people to donate cans for the Hundreds Night Shelter and Keene’s Community Kitchen. It’s such an innovative way, something that really hasn’t been done before, and I’m proud to be able to be a part of a community that these brothers are in.”
Of the stigma involved with wearing Greek letters, Richotte said, “Whatever the stereotype about us is, I think we prove it wrong every single day.”
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org