Asper students hit streets for five nights in attempt to raise awareness about homelessness

On March 14, five students from the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business will be sleeping outside for five days in an attempt to raise awareness of homelessness.

This is just one of many groups of people across the nation participating in a charity campaign, called “5 Days for the Homeless.”

The students participating will only be allowed to wear the clothes they have on their backs from the first day throughout the duration of the week and will not be allowed to shower.

In fact, the only items students are allowed to bring are a pillow and sleeping bag to use overnight. The students are not allowed to eat anything over the course of the five days, except for what is donated to them by students passing by.

All five participants have to attend all of their classes.

Event coordinator Peter Siamandas explained that last year participants were able to raise $13,000 for Resource Assistance for Youth, better known as the RAY program, and they will be the recipients of all donations made this year.

“It’s a drop-in center found downtown and they deal with the age [group] of people who go to university, 18-25 give or take a little bit.”

Siamandas explained that RAY had just moved into a larger facility, which sees around 50 people a day, this larger facility is able to serve 50 or more kids a day. It enables the attendees to seek counseling and allows them to have access to a nurse.

Siamandas explained that the RAY program doesn’t judge people and anyone can join or pay a visit to the facility.

“A couple of people actually come from gangs, and [RAY] won’t turn them [away] because they belong to a gang. [RAY] knows that desperate people often fall into things like that.”
This year, monetary donations made to the RAY program will be going to their kitchen.

Siamandas explained that the RAY facility now has access to a full-sized kitchen and wants to teach the people who go to the center how to shop and cook healthier food.

Caitlin Thompson, one of the students participating in the campaign, told the Manitoban, “I am excited to be a part of this cause — I think it’s a great idea to raise awareness and funds for homelessness.

“There is the nervousness of not being able to sleep and being tired and seeing how [to] just exist throughout the week while having to go to school,” she continued.

Thompson is also looking forward to living outside and talking to people on the street about homelessness, educating people on the issue.

RAY’s program director, Jason Neufeld, explained what he would like to get out of the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign and how it’s beneficial to the RAY program.

“The main thing that we want to get from [the campaign] is for it to be a consciousness- or awareness-raising event.”

He continued, “We’re more interested in people talking about homelessness, and especially youth homelessness, and I think that this initiative is excellent. We are always looking for donations and such, but more than anything we want people to just start talking and addressing the issue.”

In relation to the campaign, Mayor Sam Katz will be presenting students with a cheque the first night of the event.

There will be a series of events around campus related to this charity campaign.Wednesday morning there will be a pancake breakfast in the Drake Centre.Thursday, Richard Neil from Birchwood Automotive Group will be interviewing the participants. There will also be a BBQ in support of the event outside of University Center.

Gord Mackintosh, the minister of family services and consumer affairs, will be speaking at the closing ceremonies on Friday at 5 p.m. in the Drake Center.

There will also be several donation booths located around campus collecting non-perishable food items. The locations are: Drake, University Center, Armes, Elizabeth Dafoe Library, Frank Kennedy Center and Fletcher Argue.