ISU students build 28-foot tall Lego man out of cardboard to raise homeless awareness

“Move a little bit over to the left; we don’t want the head to tip over, because then we really have a problem,” said Ryan Francois, senior in civil engineering, as his colleagues moved the levers of four lifts carrying a giant 8-foot cardboard head. It’s Francois’ largest and most ambitious project yet: constructing a 27.8 foot tall Lego man entirely out of cardboard for the 2013 Reggie’s Sleepout.

Every year, people gather at Drake Stadium in Des Moines for Reggie’s Sleepout  to raise awareness for the homeless youth in the Des Moines area, said Toby O’Berry, director of the Iowa Homeless Youth Centers. The event raises money for homeless youth and honors Reggie Kelsey, who aged out of foster care in 2001 and was found dead in the Des Moines river a few months later.

For this year’s event, eight to 10 ISU students gathered to participate in the contest and raise money for the cause.

Francois and his teammates decided to build a giant Lego man with multiple stories made to sleep 22 people. The ISU students also teamed up with students from Johnston High School, which included Francois’ younger brother. Francois said they raised around $6,500 in the process. In the end, Francois’ team and their Lego man won the contest in the category “Best design.”

Ben Jacobson, graduate in industrial and manufacturing systems, said the most important part is the cause.

“For me, it’s like playing Legos on a huge scale. Also, it’s the least we can do to help homeless kids out on the streets,” Jacobson said. “I feel blessed that I can go to Iowa State, and I could never imagine what it’s like being without a home.”

To date, the Iowa Homeless Youth Centers has raised about $114,000 for their cause. Donations are still being accepted.

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