Brock University students will be pulling all-nighters outside next week when they spend five days living and sleeping outdoors to raise awareness and money for homeless and at-risk youth.
Nineteen students will brave the elements from 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 8 to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13 to raise money and food for Housing Help of Community Care of St. Catharines & Thorold.
The initiative is part of 5 Days for the Homeless, a nationwide effort by university students to raise money for local charitable organizations.
In 2014, Brock University’s campaign raised a record $13,005 in cash and food donations for Community Care’s Housing Help. This year’s goal is $10,000 in cash and food donations.
The group will be camping out in front of Brock’s Taro Hall, with only pillows and sleeping bags. Participants will not have access to food, save for the perishable food donated to them. Students will be required to attend classes while living and sleeping outside.
On Wednesday, March 11, St. Catharines mayor Walter Sendzik will join the students for an evening in the cold. He will help them fundraise from 8 to 11 p.m.
Don Cyr, Dean of Brock’s Goodman School of Business, will also join the students on March 11. He slept outside last winter.
“This winter, as with last, we’ve been unable to avoid the record-breaking cold weather,” Cyr notes. “Most of us are fortunate enough to have somewhere warm to go. But many in our community don’t have that security. That’s why I encourage our local community to give generously to 5 Days for the Homeless in support of Community Care.”
The Brock Business Students’ Association has been co-ordinating the University’s involvement in 5 Days for the Homeless since 2008. For business student Heather Bernie, who will be participating for the first time this year, sleeping outside is a way of educating others about the “everyday struggles” of homeless people in Niagara.
“After working for United Way, a proud supporter of Community Care, I gained better insight into the daily difficulties of homeless people in the Niagara region, and now I want to educate other students,” Bernie says.
“The goal is to make a difference and show others how they can be a part of change in their community.”
Betty-Lou Souter, CEO of Community Care of St. Catharines & Thorold knows first-hand the struggles of the homeless and those on the verge of being homeless.
“In 2014, Housing Help received 16,976 phone calls from individuals who needed assistance with issues related to housing and homelessness,” Souter says. “Many of these calls were from youth between 16 and 24 years of age with 65 per cent of them being female. Students taking part in 5 Days for the Homeless are in this same age range; youth helping youth. We at Community Care thank Brock University and the 5 Days for the Homeless students for choosing to be the one to make a difference in someone’s life.”
From March 8 to 13, donations of non-perishable food and money will be accepted outside Taro Hall at Brock. Donations are also always accepted at Community Care’s warehouse at 12 North St. in St. Catharines.