Laurier’s 5 Days for the Homeless campaign raises over $15,000

File Photo by Heather Davidson

Festivities have wrapped up once more at Wilfrid Laurier University’s annual 5 Days for the Homeless campaign.

The campaign, which ran from March 11–16, aims to raise both money and awareness on Laurier’s Waterloo campus for the plight of Canadian youth experiencing homelessness.

“It’s really important to have 5 Days for the Homeless on campus because I think often we get caught up in our day-to-day lives and having to do assignments and exams that we don’t really think of how lucky we are,” said Sara Cousineau, director of the 2016 campaign. “[Students] don’t think that homelessness is as big of an issue as it really is on our campus, because [they] don’t see it. We don’t have to interact with people experiencing homelessness on a day-to-day level, so I think it’s important to have our campaign here on campus just so people can hear about it and can see the issue and not kind of ignore it.”

The campaign began with opening ceremonies on March 11, with activities over the next couple of days ranging from a kick-off in the Turret to a dodge ball tournament, and even a community outreach day in Waterloo.

March 14 was the busiest of all, starting with a carnival day, along with an open mic and silent auction evening at Wilf’s before the five participants chosen to sleep outside for the length of the campaign were joined for the evening by Students’ Union president, Olivia Matthews, and president-elect, Tyler Van Herzele. The event finished with Zumba and an open forum on March 15 before closing ceremonies on March 16.

While the events act to involve the Laurier community in the campaign, the most unique aspect is its selection of five students to remain on campus for the duration of the campaign, completely dependent on donations from the Laurier community for food and beverages and unable to sleep indoors, a technique which has proven successful in gaining student attention.

“Having a visual presence right in front of the FNCC, the food court area, which is a high traffic area, definitely helps us a lot in getting the word out,” said Rohan Kapoor, a fourth-year business student and a 5 Days participant. “I think it just helps so much more than just having a booth in the concourse or events on Facebook asking people to donate, because people see that every single day.”

The campaign and its participants received overwhelming support from the Laurier community, raising $15,000 to date.

“It was definitely a challenging experience but it wasn’t so challenging because of the support we had,” said Lindsey Feltis, a second-year psychology student. “Imagine if every youth experiencing homelessness had the kind of support that we have here at Laurier, there wouldn’t be youth experiencing homelessness, they would be empowered to go on and do different things with their lives.”

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