5 Days for the homeless

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Congrats to our 5 students!

Congrats to our 5 students!

5 students, 5 days, and $25,000 raised

Article: Paige Kreutzwieser – Staff Writer

Five days of a Saskatchewan winter can be miserable, but having to live and sleep outside for those entire five days while still attending class is a different story. That is what five students from the University of Regina have done. For its fifth year, the U of R’s Paul J. Hill School of Business, along with 26 other business faculties around Canada, were involved in the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign.

Their mission is “to raise enough awareness to impact people to want to do more,” explained Cole Skrudland, fourth year business student and Participant Manager on the U of R 5 Days organizing committee. “33,000 Canadians sleep on the streets at night and, on average, one third of those are youth.”

Raising awareness, especially to the youth of our city, is what Skrudland sees as imperative.

“[It’s important] to help the city they live in and the people within those cities to make sure everybody is safe, has a meal to eat, and the basic things that every human needs.”

That is why the organizing committee for the Hill School chose outside the doors leading into the Riddell building to camp their five volunteering students. Lynn Barber, Greg Duck, Liam McKinnon, Christina Miles and Brooke Paterson remained outside for the five days. They spent their time approaching students and foot traffic to bring the issue of homelessness to light – and maybe a bite to eat as well.

“They cannot spend any of their own money and anything they eat has to be donated to them,” explained Skrudland. “If it’s not a perishable good, then we donate that to Carmichael Outreach.”

Carmichael Outreach is a Regina-based organization that provides a range of programming, including preventative measures and harm reduction to those in need within the city. They are an open door society and offer a litany of programs for the marginalized people of the city.

“I think people are in the mind frame that the homeless put themselves there, but what people need to know is it is a cycle and it takes people like Carmichael to help those people get out of the cycle,” said third year business student Lynn Barber, who was one of the five volunteers living outside.

Two days into her experience, Barber noticed a couple obstacles.

“Although it’s nice out everyday, it’s humid. So our stuff gets a little bit damp and freezes at night.”

She also didn’t expect the experience to be as draining as it was. But her biggest surprise, in her words, “is the positive feedback we have been getting.”

“It’s crazy how much it lifts your spirits when people give you positive comments and you can talk to them about Carmichael and tell them something that they didn’t know before and open up their eyes. I don’t know if I thought I would be as affected by that as I am and it’s great.”

However, it’s not always positive feedback they are receiving. Raising the issue of homelessness, as Barber pointed out, can bring along with it adverse feelings.

“‘Business students are pretending to be homeless’ is a big thing on social media,” said Skrudland.

“A part of what they are doing is so people realize that people do sleep on the streets. It’s spreading an amazing amount of awareness to a ton of people. And we’re not pretending to be homeless; we are doing our best to raise as much awareness to people.”

The orange clothing worn by the members is intended to draw the eyes of passerby’s and visibly highlight their efforts. Awareness is key to the 5 Days Campaign.

Speaking on Friday at the ending event for the fundraiser, Dean Gaudes addressed this point of contention: “We’re doing this for others, but one day, we might be doing this for ourselves,” emphasizes how little it takes to end up homeless, it “doesn’t take too many hiccups to end up there.”

At the event, a few interesting stats were discussed. For example, how in one day alone over $1800 was raised in change, or how there were over 100 volunteers helping the participants out.

Along with raising awareness, the students had a goal of raising $25,000 for Carmichael Outreach. This year they were able to exceed that goal through a week of events held at The Owl. Nathan Sgrazzutti, U of R Students’ Union President, said that events at The Owl are known for bringing in a lot of revenue, “but the business students are, well, business students.”

Sgrazzutti is proud of the student body.

“It’s amazing to see the business students getting out there and putting their well earned skill from the university classes [to use], especially for a charity like the 5 Days [campaign].”

On day two, Barber laughed and said it’s been interesting sharing the experience with the four other students. “When you are all experiencing it at the same time…you have to get to know each other pretty quick when you are sleeping right next to each other and have to huddle up to keep warm.”

For the females, Barber explained, “our hair is getting a little matted. Our finger combing really isn’t working anymore.”

The “no showering” rule also left Barber in an awkward place. “Cole gave me new socks [on day four] and he let me wear his slippers to class because I had a three hour night class and my feet are so gross they’ll kick me out of the class.”

The 5 Days Campaign across Canada has been a major source of funds for institutions like Carmichael Outreach and others that seek to aide the homeless. Over the campaign’s entire history, over one million dollars has been raised. $25,000 was raised this year; let’s see if it can be beat next year.

Image: Emily Wright

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