Alpha Tau Omega raises awareness for the homeless


Ashley Sodosky

Scott Tezza, Lotsy Yang, Hunter Bellamy, Matt Riggio, John Burnette, Peter Coffman (left to right) stand outside the Alpha Tau Omega shelter at the Student Center.

Marshall University Fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega (ATO), is holding their annual “ATO Goes Homeless” event this week.

The members of ATO hold this event annually to raise money for the Huntington City Mission. Members sleep in a shelter made of cardboard boxes donated by local business, every night for a whole week.

The makeshift shelter is located outside of the Memorial Student center near the fountain on campus.

“We take it really seriously,” Blake Hettlinger, President of ATO said. “Every member is required to spend at least one night in the shelter.”

When the members are not in class they are required to spend some time at the box shelter to keep the simulation as “real” as possible.

According to the Center for Capacity Building, a national alliance for the homeless, in 2011 there were 227 homeless people in Huntington.

The Huntington City Mission provides a safe place to go and a warm meal for the homeless people in Huntington. The church’s main goal is to “offer help and hope to everyone who comes to [their] door.”

Marshall University’s ATO Chapter was actually the first chapter in the country to come up with the idea of simulating homelessness to raise money and awareness.

“We only raised a couple hundred dollars last year, so we are hoping to reach $1,000 this year.””

— Blake Hettlinger

“Most of them thought it was a crazy thought but they went ahead and did it anyways. They had crazy success with it, now every ATO chapter in the country does it,” Hettlinger said.

Since they started doing this event the members of ATO said that awareness and donations among students has risen.

“We only raised a couple hundred dollars last year, so we are hoping to reach $1,000 this year,” Hettlinger said.

The Huntington City Mission is located at 624 Tenth Street. The City Mission accepts financial contributions, volunteer work and accepts donated goods.

Riley Mahoney can be reached at [email protected]