Laurier participates in 5 Days for the Homeless

From Sunday, March 14 to Friday, March 19, four students from Wilfrid Laurier University are participating in the national 5 Days for the Homeless campaign.

The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about the problems of homelessness and at-risk youth.

University of Alberta’s school of business launched the campaign in 2005. In 2008, it was expanded to include 10 universities across Canada, which included Laurier.

Robb Farago, third-year economics and philosophy; Sarah Splinter, third-year business and economics; Jeremy Enns, first-year business and economics and Michelle Fusco, global studies and communication studies, are the students from Laurier participating in the campaign, which is organized by the School of Business and Economics Students Society (SBESS).

“I’ve had a personal experience where a friend of mine actually lived on the street for a couple months, and it was because of places like [Kitchener-Waterloo Reaching Our Outdoor Friends and Argus Residence for Young People] that helped her through,” Farago said, speaking of his motivation to raise awareness for this cause.

“So there’s got to be some ways that I can give back other than just giving money, to take that extra step, so that’s why I’m coming out here to do this. If I can at least talk to people and tell them about homelessness, then I’m doing my job.”

Ginny Dybenko, dean of the School of Business and Economics, is supporting the campaign, and for the third consecutive year will join the students on Wednesday night.

“I feel sometimes when I talk to students that they’ve lived a pretty privileged life, and the initiative that this presents is an opportunity for students to put themselves in the shoes, literally, of a disadvantaged person,” said Dybenko.

“When I heard about [the campaign], I was really eager to support it.”

All the money raised will be donated to local street youth outreach charities; Kitchener-Waterloo Reaching Our Outdoor Friends (ROOF) and Argus Residence for Young People.

In 2009 Laurier raised $7,500, and this year their goal is to bring in $10,000.

“Honestly, I think we are going to blast it out of the water,” said Farago about the fundraising goal.

“From what I’ve seen just so far, we are probably going to hammer that goal, and I’m excited to see it.”

Student participants have a number of rules throughout these five days, including sleeping outside every night with only a pillow and a sleeping bag, having no food or drink other than through direct donation, attending all classes, avoiding cell phones or social networking sites (such as Facebook), no showering, and only useing washrooms when campus buildings are open.

Laurier’s participants are sleeping in the quad outside of the Fred Nichols Campus Centre.

The campaign will raise money through booths set up around campus and donation boxes at local businesses.