Students go homeless for charity

Four Carleton students (left to right), Aisling McCaffrey, Meha Sethi, Lauren Gouchie and Mark Featherstonhaugh, lived outside Carleton’s University Centre as part of 5 Days for the Homeless March 13 to 18. The event was organized by the Sprott School of Business. (James Park photo)

Four Carleton students raised over $8,000 during a five-day campaign in March to raise awareness about homeless youth.

They braved the elements from March 13 to 18 as part of 5 Days for the Homeless, a national campaign devoted to fundraising and spreading awareness for local charities helping homeless and at-risk youth.

“We’re so lucky that our day-to-day lives don’t involve a lot of exposure to these issues,” said Desirae Odjick, marketing chair for Carleton’s campaign. “They are really important and really prevalent issues in a lot of communities, and so it’s important for the participants to be able to share that with people by really bringing it to us and into our environment.”

Organized by the Sprott School of Business for the second year, the students build their own shelter out of tarp and cardboard and lived in it outside of the University Centre building. They were allowed indoors only for bathroom breaks, classes and to write for the organization’s blog.

“The experience has been a lot better than expected,” Meha Sethi, a 20-year-old international business student and participant, wrote in her blog.

Sethi said food hadn’t been a concern during the week as she and her teammates were provided with a number of donations, including breakfast sponsored by Kettleman’s Bagel Co.

Two things drove home the issue most for her – coping with poor weather and dealing with the indifference of schoolmates.

“The main part that opened my eyes is seeing the reaction we’re getting from people,” she said during the event. “We’re still students and we’re getting negative energy, so real homeless people must be getting it way worse than we are.

“The way people just walk past you and don’t even look at you as if you’re not there – I think that’s been the hardest part.”

Despite falling short of their $10,000 goal, the students still managed to raise a fair sum for Operation Come Home, a charity working to combat homelessness by providing programs and services to over 350 youth annually.

The 5 Days for the Homeless began in 2005 at the University of Alberta when a group of business students decided they wanted to give back to the community. The event was a success, raising double the expected goal and quickly spread to a number of other campuses across Canada over the next few years.

This year, 22 schools participated, raising over $200,000 for local charities.

“We’re really lucky as university students to have all the opportunities in the world,” added Odjick. “We’re lucky enough to have housing, education and food on a regular basis and it’s a really great opportunity to give back and maybe help other young people.”

http://www.5days.ca/

http://www.5days.ca/region/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=36&Itemid=394

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