5 Days raises around $13,000

Students visit youth shelters while raising awareness of homelessness

Photo by Heather Davidson
Photo by Heather Davidson

Wilfrid Laurier University’s seventh annual 5 Days for the Homeless reportedly ended better this year in terms of weather and support from students.

The campaign, which had participants sleeping outside and living a homeless lifestyle from March 8-13, aimed to increase awareness for the homeless and raise donations for local charities and shelters.

This year’s campaign raised almost $13,000 in donations.

“We didn’t reach our goal, which was $20,000 this year, but still we had an amazing campaign,” said Phillip Lee, public relations for 5 Days for the Homeless.

According to Taylor Sicard, director of Laurier’s 5 Days for the Homeless, the improvement this year was the decline of negative perceptions around the campaign.

“Every year we get quite a bit of negative feedback from people who don’t think that what we’re doing is correct,” Sicard explained.

“We’re trying to advocate for youth who are homeless and by doing this by sleeping outside by no means do we think we know anything about what it’s like to be homeless. But because of the way people can see the campaign we tend to get negative feedback. But this year was like an all-time low for that.”

According to Colin Penstone, a fourth-year communication studies student and participant, 5 Days for the Homeless is one of the more visible campaigns on campus.

“Everyone does a great job in their own way, but we create kind of a viewing that not a lot of clubs are able to do and I think that really helps encourage dialogue and gets people talking about what we’re doing,” he said.

5 Days for the Homeless, which started at the University of Alberta in 2005, is a national campaign with over 22 schools in Canada participating.

According to Sicard, this year’s campaign was more geared towards getting out into the community rather than just being centered on campus.

“In the past, our campaigns have been centered on campus and that’s it, so this year we tried to go out into the community and we got quite a bit of support for doing that,” Sicard explained.

The participants had the chance to visit two youth homeless shelters to interact with young adults going through homelessness.

According to Penstone and Sicard, there were no issues except when Special Constable Services asked a homeless man to leave campus.

The man had seen the participants at uptown Waterloo and asked to hang out with them on campus.

“He did not necessarily want to sleep with us, but we wanted to make Special Constables aware of someone that we didn’t know lingering on campus,” said Penstone.

“So what the outcome was with Special Constables was that they ultimately asked him to leave, but he wasn’t threatening us and he was not causing any problems by any means.”

According to Lee, one of the goals for the campaign is to make students appreciate the things given to them, such as shelter.

“[Participants] know in five days that it’s going to be over, but for these actual youth who are on the streets they don’t know when they’re going to have a stable life with a house and stuff.”

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