Five Days for the Homeless
Published: Monday, March 12, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2012 15:07
The BSA is holding their third annual Five Days for the Homeless campaign to raise awareness and donations for an issue affecting an estimated 157,000 Canadians each year. The campaign began in the evening of March 11 outside Taro Hall, where seven Brock University student volunteers spent their first night outdoors.
Donations are being raised are Community Care St. Catharines and Thorold, a non-profit organization funded by the United Way. Community Care provides a number of services to help the homeless as well as low income families in the area. These services include clothing, food and housing programs, as well as emergency medical care and more. The donation bins seen in grocery stores are set up by Community Care, as well as the permanent food donation bins at the base of Schmon Tower.
Five Days for the Homeless was founded at the University of Alberta's School of Business in 2005. Since then, the campaign has grown to a national scale, with 25 participating universities across Canada, raising over $747,000 for various charities.
Last year Brock raised $2,000 during the Five Days for the Homeless campaign. This year, the Brock Business Students' Association (BSA) has set their goal to try to raise $2,500 for Community Care St. Catharines and Thorold.
"We would like to raise as much for Community Care as we can, and to just raise awareness in the community about the homelessness issue because I think that people often forget about it," said Farrah Amikons, Charity Coordinator for the BSA.
Students participating in this campaign will be making personal sacrifices by living outdoors with zero income for five days. Volunteers can join the cause at any point during the campaign as long as they sign a contract which is available in Taro Hall, RM404. Monetary and non-perishable food donations will be collected by participants, but volunteers must hold onto these donations until they can be collected by Community Care.
"A lot of people donate to the volunteers," said Amikons. "I hear they get a lot of Timbits."
Some of the volunteers' other restrictions include no access to showers or facilities that their student status would usually grant them. Also, participants are only allowed a pillow and a sleeping bag, which can be exchanged for an emergency meal. Volunteers are also expected to complete all academic responsibilities and to avoid personal communication media, except for emergencies and for the promotion of the campaign.
"The students have friends around campus and a lot of people around campus support it, so they do get food a lot more often then they probably should, which is why this year we're emphasizing monetary donations because they do have the backing of the BSA to give them food if necessary," said Amikons.
Although BSA would like to collect as many donations as possible, sometimes the most powerful tool to combat social issues such as homelessness is basic awareness. Awareness is the first step towards positive actions being put forward, as evidenced recently by the Stop Kony 2012 campaign.
"I believe it's important to raise awareness on campus so other students have an idea," said Matt Paulino, one of the student participants taking part in the campaign. "It's great to raise awareness for other students who have no idea of the reality that's going on in society.
"I've been a part of [the Five Days for the Homeless campaign] the last two years, so it's something that's special to me. It's all about raising awareness," he said.
Poverty and homelessness are still serious issues in North America. Over 1,300 people die a year as a direct result of being homeless.
"We're not trying to say, ‘look at us we're homeless'," said Paulino. "We're trying to say, ‘look at us. People are really living their lives like this'. I think by sleeping out here, for some people, I hope that it maybe opens their eyes to something that is reality to certain people."
There will also be open nights where students from the Faculty of Business and BSA will be invited to join the volunteers for a night. The first open night was on March 12, and featured a campfire in the evening at Alfie's Trough. The next open night will be on March 15. The campaign ends on March 16 with a closing ceremony at Alfie's Trough, where a representative from Community Care will speak.
When asked whether he thought the volunteers would make it through the entire week, Paulino was confident.
"Absolutely," he said. "I think all of us will make it through. We're all pretty strong-hearted."
For more information about the campaign or Community Care please visit 5days.ca and communitycarestca.ca