Students take the plunge for shelter

Queen’s Helping Hand Association Polar Bear Dip raises $550

Students took a dip in Lake Ontario Saturday to raise money for Ryandale Homeless shelter.
Students took a dip in Lake Ontario Saturday to raise money for Ryandale Homeless shelter.

As hard winds blew, a shivering line of 23 swimmers, dressed only in swimsuits, waited anxiously
near the edge of the rocky shore of Breakwater Park. Someone counted to three and they all raced
into the water—and then raced back out even faster.

With the theme, “Get Cold to Keep Others Warm,” the Queen’s Helping Hand Association’s Polar Bear Dip Fundraiser for the Ryandale Shelter for the Homeless took place last Saturday at 2 p.m. The association, which also runs other events such as Cuts for Cancer, organized the dip to raise money for Ryandale, the only shelter in Kingston to offer emergency support to men, women and families all under the same roof.

One of the event’s organizers, Jessica Thom, ArtSci ’08, said the issue of homelessness in Kingston
affects Queen’s students as much as any other citizen. “We’re part of the Kingston community but we live in a bubble most of the time,” she said. Almost a hundred spectators looked on and took pictures at the event, while others waited with towels and clothes to warm up the returning swimmers.
Swimmer Pietra Basilig, Comm ’08, said she participated in the event because she believes in supporting the city’s homeless shelters.

“I think Kingston, in particular, has a lot of homeless [people] and it’s nice to do something to try
and get it off the streets. It is for a good cause and it is a fun way to fundraise.”

Participants raised about $550 for the shelter and also received clothing donations.

Terri Fleming, Ryandale Shelter executive director, said homeless shelters in general are poorly-funded.

“It’s an ongoing struggle to keep the shelter going,” she said, adding that the 11-bedroom facility is
always at 100 per cent capacity. She said the shelter is grateful to the association for the money they raised. “Queen’s students have been long term supporters of Ryandale,” she said. “It is important that future leaders care about the homeless.”

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