By Eugenia Tavarez | firstname.lastname@example.org
SIFE’s Containers for a Cause rallied Flagler students on Dec. 1, the first day of voting with a music and arts festival on the West Lawn. They are up against thousands of projects across America for a chance to win a $250,000 grant sponsored by the Pepsi Refresh Challenge.
“Since today is the first day of voting, we really wanted to get ahead because once you get behind you really don’t go up in the rankings to be number one,” said President of SIFE, Emily Marcellus.
Despite the chilling weather and an upcoming finals week, many students put on their coats and scarves and came out and support the cause. The kick off boasted live music acts, ranging from Victoria Van Arnam on the dulcimer to the vintage rock of The Soul Birds, and many student-artists showcasing and selling their original works.
“The goal for this kick off event is to really spread awareness of our cause around the campus because you can vote everyday throughout the month of December. We’re trying to let people know what we’re doing and show them how easy it is to vote.” said Neil Boyle, marketing director of SIFE.
Throughout the event, a video clip played which showed a computer generated visualization of the transformation of shipping containers and their projected future developments with SIFE members explaining the project to prospective voters.
In order to demonstrate the simplicity of voting, SIFE set up a voting station where students were guided through the short voting process online. After voting, each participant received a blue rubber band bracelet to remind them to vote every day of December.
“This is a really big deal, we get to bring 250,000 dollars to St John’s County and it’s a way to get the students together behind a cause,” said Marcellus.
According to Marcellus, the ultimate goal is to provide solutions to both the lack of housing for the homeless in the St. Augustine area and the staggering recidivism rate of 87 percent in Florida. With the help of the grant, SIFE hopes to convert at least eight shipping containers into livable homes for the homeless and keep released prisoners from relapsing into crime through jobs in building and refurbishing the homes.
“Our goal is to use that $250,000 to really launch this program and make it a reality,” Boyle said.