Homeless for five days to raise funds for shelter

Queen’s Project on International Development (QPID) organizes this year’s 5 Days for Homelessness campaign

The students involved in this campaign only eat food that’s been donated during their time living outside.
The students involved in this campaign only eat food that’s been donated during their time living outside.
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On Monday, a group of students moved out of their homes and onto the street to raise awareness for youth homelessness.

The campaign, called “5 Days for Homelessness” began at Queen’s last year by a group of law students, but this year it’s being run by Queen’s Project on International Development (QPID).

The participants are currently living outside Stauffer Library, in sleeping bags.

Participants aren’t allowed to shower or change their clothes all week, except for class presentations and they only eat food that is donated.

QPID took over the event this year, in order to increase participation and interest among students, Simeran Bachra, the event’s co-organizer and QPID general director, said.

Initially founded by University of Alberta School of Business students in 2005, the campaign spread nationally in 2008.

This year, 26 universities across Canada are participating by living outside from March 10 to 15.

Queen’s chapter of “5 Days” is aiming to raise $10, 000 for the Kingston Youth Shelter, which would top the $8,000 generated last year.

Around 25 QPID students are involved in the event, nine of which are participating for the full 5 days, the rest for a few nights and coming out for the days. Two law students are also involved.

As of last evening, organizers had raised over $6,600, not including that day’s in-person donations. Bachra, ArtSci ’13, said she hopes the campaign will remove the misconception of what it’s like to be homeless and who is homeless.

“They’re not lazy people, they are students and youth who have been through children’s aid or foster care,” she said.

Currently, the Kingston Youth Shelter, which caters to youth aged 16-24, has 15 beds, but it’s only funded for eight.

The Shelter, has received a reduction in government funding from 40 per cent to 30 per cent, following City budget cuts earlier this year, Bachra added.

The shelter offers career services, counselling and support for youth, as well as encouraging them to stay in school, Bachra added.

“There is a surprising amount of people who have used the shelter in the past and now go to Queen’s,” said Alyssa Parpia, also co-organizer of the event. “They came up to us and told us how much they appreciated the work that the shelter does.” Both Bachra and Parpia said they’ve received warm support from the community for this initiative, including a motion by the Engineering Society to match any donations made at the Annual General Meeting this Thursday. Large amounts of donations are also made online.

“We talked to a lot of organizations downtown and they have been very supportive as well,” Parpia, ArtSci ’13, said. “Tara’s Foods in particular, their manager was very enthusiastic about our cause and they let us talk to people outside their store. This helps us reach different demographics.” The organizers promoted the campaign through social media, as well as holding class talks.

As for living outside in the cold, some participants said it provides a way to grab people’s attention.

“Our friends and the Queen’s community have made it easier and more fun than it should have been,” said participant Caroline Crocker, ArtSci ’13.

Donations can be made at 5days.ca

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