University of Ottawa’s 5 Days for the Homeless

We all know how cold Ottawa’s winter is. Luckily, after freezing our toes and fingers in all of five minutes in which we are outside, we can come back into our warm and cozy homes. For some, this privilege is not reality. The homeless of Ottawa have to endure endless winters with frigid temperatures, with little access to primary care services and shelters. We all know this to be true, but do we do anything about it? The University of Ottawa sure is!

Five Days for the Homeless is all about bringing to light the reality of homelessness, specifically youth homelessness. In 2005, Five Days for the Homeless was founded by a group of students at the University of Alberta’s Business School. The students realized that homelessness is a growing issue affecting not only everyday citizens, but also struggling students. This idea culminated to a radical new event, where students slept outside, bearing the -20 degree weather, and raised money towards a unified cause. Today, business schools from coast to coast are doing this – from University of British Columbia to Dalhousie University!

uOttawa jumped on this bandwagon four years ago, and want this year to be the best yet! On March 9th – 14th, there will be students camping outside on Morisset terrace all day and all night. These students will not be able to use laptops or mobile phones, all food consumed will need to be donated to them, and they will not be allowed to enjoy the comfort of their own home as they will be sleeping outside for the entire week.  However, they are still expected to attend class and tend to their everyday responsibilities.

In addition to the participants, a group of dedicated and highly motivated students took to organizing the event, including 3rd year finance student, Gina Chong, who I had the pleasure of interviewing for this article. These students are working hard to collect donations, both monetary and material. During the week itself, the committee will be hosting a series of events such as a BBQ , a pancake breakfast, a grilled cheese day, etc. – all of which will be located outside on Morisset terrace. The participants and organizers will be carrying large water coolers to collect cash donations. You are also encouraged to bring the participants’ coffee or snacks – they for sure will appreciate the gesture!

All funds raised by the University of Ottawa team will go towards a local charity, Operation Come Home. Operation Come Home is an organization that helps at risk and homeless youth within Ottawa. This organization aims to prevent homeless youth from becoming homeless adults. To date, the national organization, has raised over $975,000 for various at risk and homeless youth charities and organizations across Canada! For more information, you can check out their website.

This year, the University of Ottawa has set a goal to fundraise $2500 over the span of March 9th – 14th.

For more information regarding the event, you can check out the facebook event or the Telfer Student Council website. And don’t forget to throw some loose change into the big water coolers on March 9th – 14th on Morisset Terrace!

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