Home News “Homeless” business students sleep on de Maisonneuve

“Homeless” business students sleep on de Maisonneuve

by Archives March 17, 2009

He’ll take whatever you’ve got. “Give for the homeless!” Tim Knight yells from the corner of de Maisonneuve Ave. and McKay St. “Pennies, dimes, nickels, whatever!” he continues while standing in front of a water jug full of fives, loonies, and of course, dimes, nickels and pennies.
Knight is one of five Concordia John Molson School of Business (JMSB) students living outside for five days and nights, from March 15 to 20.
The five are raising money for Dans La Rue, a Montreal charity dedicated to helping the homeless, especially youth. Five days a week, Dans La Rue operates a van that drives around east of downtown. Volunteers give out meals, clothing and other personal necessities to the homeless. The charity also runs Chez Pops, a community centre for street youth.
“It’s such a good cause,” said Knight. “This is a way people can put their money to good use. We have a terrible situation in Montreal, with 30,000 homeless. And if nobody cares, nothing’s going to happen.”
Homelessnation.org estimates the number of people living on Montreal streets is somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000, with 28,000 people using homeless shelters each year.
Last year the group managed to raise over $37,000, well over their goal of around $15,000. This year the students are hoping to raise $30,000. The troubled economic situation does not seem to have been hurting the cause, Knight said. “It’s been a great day for fundraising,” he said. “A lot of people are donating in the $20 range, which is great. It’s strange how this recession, these economic times, are really affecting people’s emotions.”
He said the hardest thing about living outside is the feeling of being ignored. “You’d be amazed,” he said. “When I talk to people as a student, people listen to me. As a fundraiser for a cause like homelessness, my voice falls on deaf ears. It’s really quite sad.”
Wearing bright orange T-shirts, surrounded by jugs of money and constantly exhorting people to donate, it’s hard to imagine these JMSB students being ignored. When asked whether he felt what he was doing was similar to the experience of a real homeless person, he paused and said, “Maybe that’s the point. It’s good that we seem to be a little bit different. If we weren’t, if we were like some of the homeless you see, then people don’t seem to put much money in their cups.”

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