Re-published: Shack was Back (and the death of outreach)

Photo by Greenville College.
Photo by Greenville College.

This article was originally published on 4 November, 2013. We, the editors of The Papyrus, wish to address the handling of the original publication of this article and our editorial response to it after further consideration of its focus and content. First, it was a mistake to publish this article in Campus News. While we’re aware that there is no such thing as an objective perspective, the goal of Campus News is to report on events in an unbiased, who-what-when-where-why fashion. It would have been appropriate to express, in a campus news article about shack-a-thon, how populously the event was attended, but commentary on the quality of the event is a different territory. That type of writing, with claims of opinion that are well-researched and approached with intellectual humility, is welcomed in the Opinions section. Two, this article referenced campus organizations that were not directly consulted while the article was being written, and were not given the opportunity to comment, which goes against journalistic practice. We will be running articles soon that have been written in communication with these organizations. We will also be running articles expressing students’ varied sentiments regarding the outreach that is or is not happening, reflecting research on the subject. As a student newspaper, The Papyrus is a public learning environment, and this has been a great learning opportunity for all of us. In the spirit of acknowledging our mistake, as well as not shying away from fodder for discussion, here is the original article that was temporarily removed from our website, now included in our Opinions section.


Written by Cody L. Ripperger. Media added by Sean McFarland.


Photo by Greenville College.
Photo by Greenville College.

Some of you may have noticed some cardboard boxes set up on Scott Field or by the library steps not too long ago and wondered what it was all about. Shack-a-Thon is not something new to Greenville College, nor really in most places for that matter. This is an event many people participate in across the nation to raise awareness of homelessness in America and to get a first hand experience of what it is like. These events are intentionally placed when it is cold out to make the experience more real at some of nature’s harshest times.

Shak-a-Thon was started in the 90’s by Mary Massena* and has had a strong history on campus. It has been strong up until the past few years, where 2010 was the last successful year of the event. But why bring it back after past years of unsuccessful participation? It was brought back by Habitat for Humanity, with partnership of YACHT Club and COR401 Group 8 to raise awareness for homeless outreach. But as some of you noticed, there were only two boxes set up overall this year. So it would be a lie to say that Shak-a-Thon had a good turnout, but it definitely raises several issues.

1. Why did it fail?

2. What is the reason behind low participation?

3. What does this mean for outreach?

Photo by Greenville College.
Photo by Greenville College.

All of these issues tie into each other. To start off, the event was not promoted well enough in advance for students to know, understand, and schedule the event into their lives. It was thrown together way too fast with very little care and passion. Students didn’t have a reason to want to join. The event overall was not runvery well. Two groups out of the three in charge of putting it together didn’t even participate in the event. So this raises a very serious concern, what does this mean for GC outreach?

It is very obvious that Greenville’s outreach organizations have disappeared to almost a zero per cent status. I’m sure that this article is the first time most students have found out that we still have YACHT Club and even a Habitat for Humanity. Or how about Urban Plunge? How many students know that is still happening this semester? But these organizations are not completely to blame. When we are stuck far enough away urban areas and other areas of need, we develop an out of sight, out of mind mentality and become lazy Christians.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean having faith in salvation through Jesus Christ, it means being the hands and feet of Christ to bring salvation to those in need. We as students, where I am guilty for sure, have become complacent with our lives here in Greenville, IL. We forget that St. Louis is only 50 minutes away, where there are large amounts of need. We are the hands and feet of Christ, yet we only go to St. Louis for our own pleasure. I understand that there are students who go out of their way for many in need, but this article is directed at the whole body. How many of us are willing to get in our cars right now and drive to St. Louis to hand out food and clothes to the homeless?

This is the problem with little to no outreach opportunity here at Greenville. The Body of Christ is being separated. It is a command of Christ to help believers and non-believers alike, yet we don’t. This is what I have learned from Shak-a-Thon. By witnessing two groups who were in charge of putting the event together not even participating has created an uneasy reality in front of me. How do we work in Salvation, without doing the work of the Body? I fear that we have gotten to the point where we are fine with being the Body, but we don’t want to give it a purpose. We just let the body sit around and make excuses. Christ doesn’t want us to just be the Body, but to make it work for the salvation of others and the restoration of creation. I pray that our outreach program can see this issue and do something about it. I also pray that our students break free from the comfortable life we live and start living for Christ again. I pray that we bring back outreach through Greenville College.


*This has been changed from the original “John Massena’s wife” for clarity.


  1. I agree with the overall intended point of this article. However, be very careful that you don’t confuse those who are seeking by implying that our works are what makes a Christian.

    In the second to the last paragraph you state,

    “Being a Christian doesn’t mean having faith in salvation through Jesus Christ, it means being the hands and feet of Christ to bring salvation to those in need.”

    Being a Christian means you have salvation because of your faith in Jesus Christ. Our works are the fruit of our labors on behalf of our Lord and Saviour, but they have nothing to do with gaining our salvation.

    I felt the wording of that statement implied we earned salvation through our works, and the just isn’t so.

    • Nancy,

      I agree with you that our salvation is not earned through our works, but I would add that being a Christian is to follow Jesus Christ and see him as our example. Having salvation is a side effect. Christ unapologetically spoke truth and interacted with people. Our works do not cause our salvation, but rather, our hope of salvation in Christ compels us to do works.

  2. Wow, times have certainly changed. When I was there from 2006-2009, there were so many students excited about outreach opportunities. So many sought ways they could reach out to our communities, others in our country, and even those overseas, which made many groups of students look outward instead of inward. This brought a lot of strength, wisdom, and perspective to the student body as a whole. I certainly hope that the student body of Greenville College will start to examine themselves and look outward to the needs around them once again.

    The best preparation for life after college is serving others and learning from them. Only then do we understand what humanity and community are all about. Opportunities to serve others outside the immediate college community gives the opportunities students need to serve and gain the understanding necessary to succeed in life. Education without perspective isn’t half as valuable as education with wisdom.


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