Students head back to the streets with 5 days for the Homeless
As they’ve been doing every year for the past 10 years, volunteers across the country will be spend- ing the next week braving the elements to raise donations and awareness for the homeless.
Concordia students will be participating for the seventh consecutive year in the heart of the Sir George Williams campus. Partici- pants will be expected to sleep on the street during those five days without showering and purchas- ing any food for themselves yet still attending classes. Past rules limiting use of technology have been changed to better harness the power of social media.
The event was created in 2005 by University of Alberta business students wishing to do a good deed and show that the business community could be socially minded.
“I’ve been involved because it’s been an uplifting campaign,” said Josh Redler, who first par- ticipation in 2008. They raised $42,000 and this inspired him to come back again and again. “I love getting new people involved and seeing their reaction. It’s kind of like my vacation for the week, even though there’s little sleep and lots of work.”
For Redler, now co-chair for 5 days for the Homeless National, it’s not about collecting donations but humanizing homeless exis- tence. “You feel invisible around your peers, even though you’re not lesser than them; you’re equal,” he said.
Montreal’s homeless popula- tion isn’t what you’d expect, he says. The individuals you see on the streets day after day are usu- ally those who have been home- less for many years. Just as many are squatters or those who move from couch to couch.
He says last year’s total donations set a record at $250,000, though they’ve always had prob- lems finding daytime volunteers. Redler encourages Concordians, who’ve always been supportive, to help them out once more.
“Everyone’s hanging around, having a good time,” he said of the experience and the friendships that form amongst participants.
He says this year’s higher tem- peratures have already produced higher than average attention, food donations, and—he hopes— money donations. “People are in a good mood, and people are more generous. I appreciate it, though I wouldn’t like to think it’s just be- cause of the weather.”