Students gather in cold for Carboard Castle Sleep Out

Students huddle together for the Cardboard Castle Sleep Out to wrap up Homelessness Awareness Week on Friday, November 14th. The event was organized by Marli Horwitz ‘16, a program coordinator for the Center for Public Service. (Photo courtesy of Jamie Welch.)

By James Welch, Staff Writer

It was a bitterly cold night on November 14, with lows in the mid-twenties. As I walked back from a long night of work in Glatfelter Hall, I could feel the wind hitting me in the face, each gust hitting me like tiny knives.

I was powerwalking past the gazebo when something caught my attention: there was a bunch of people out on Stine Lake.

What reason, I wondered, could these people possibly have for being outside on such a cold night? When I got closer, I saw that they were fashioning a makeshift shelter out of Adirondack chairs and cardboard boxes. I was truly intrigued and just had to find out what was going on.

“Hi,” someone said to me as I approached, “I’m Marli.” Marli Horwitz is a program coordinator with the Center for Public Service and was responsible for organizing Homelessness Awareness Week on campus.

I returned her greeting, then asked the burning question: “What are you doing out here?” Marli explained that they were setting up their shelter for the evening and that she and a group of fifteen people would be spending the night sleeping outdoors to wrap-up the homelessness awareness week on campus in an event called the Cardboard Castle Sleep Out.

This is Marli’s second year being the Program Coordinator for DC Outfitters and planning this event on campus.

With DC Outfitters, Marli and a group of volunteers go to Washington DC once a month to offer clothing and conversation to the homeless living in our nation’s capital.

I spoke with some volunteers who were participating in the event to find out what drew them to take part. Sean Brower ‘16 commented that his years as a Boy Scout instilled in him a drive for public service. “I really wanted to feel what they feel so that I can have a greater understanding of what they go through,” he commented.

Yupeng Yin ‘18 was inspired to sleep out on Stine Lake by his work with Big Brothers, Big Sisters through the Center for Public Service. “This event looked really, really interesting, and I wanted to try something new,” he said.

Abigail Conner ‘15 has participated in this event both years and she says that this event is fantastic because it help to show the people of Gettysburg what the real world is really like.

“We live in a bubble here at Gettysburg and it’s our opportunity to check that,” Abigail said, “it’s not the same, we have a lot of cardboard and duct tape, but it’s really cool to be able to educate people as they come across.”

“I think this is a great event,” Marli said, “not only for the people who are a part of it, but also for the people who happen to be walking by.

An awareness week is only as good as the people that become aware.” And people were most definitely aware of what was going on out on Stine Lake.

In the brief time that I spent with the group, more than a few people walked up and asked what was going on. Marli and the others were quick to explain why they were outside, but also quick to emphasize that, for them, this is just one night outside, but for those without a home this is an everyday reality.

Abigail best described why this event is so important: “Every night I get to sleep in my heated apartment in my super comfy bed, and so I might as well freeze my butt off once because many people out there don’t have the choice to sleep inside.”

For more information on DC Outfitters or to learn how you can get involved, email Marli Horwitz at

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Author: Isabel Gibson Penrose

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