Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY)’s 5 Days for the Homeless campaign will take place from March 21 to 25.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s focus will be on virtual events and fundraising initiatives.
“We want to help address the complexity of youth homelessness,” said Amin Montazeri, the public relations director for the campaign.
This is the 15th year that the U of M has taken part in the 5 Days for the Homeless events.
“Basically, the Asper [school of business] has been a partner with RaY [for] more than a dozen years now,” said Montazeri.
“The partnership allows for students to engage and gain insight in youth homelessness.”
One goal of the initiative is to bring awareness to RaY and the resources it offers through community engagement between students and volunteers as well as through the support of sponsors and corporate relations.
“The premise and […] mission statement is basically providing shelter, providing resources for growth and development and […] a safe haven for youth that are facing trauma or abuse [or] circumstances that push them to the fringes,” said Montazeri.
In addition to food and shelter, RaY also aids people in developing skills, resumé building and establishing an address for people to be reached at when pursuing a career or higher education.
“RaY acts as that kind of bridge in […] allowing youth to develop themselves,” Montazeri said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign was usually able to raise a substantial amount of money. In previous years, the focus of the campaign would involve a group of U of M students spending the “5 Days” living outside.
“Much of the donations came during the week of the 5 Days when we were sleeping outside, interacting with people and […] it really helped in that aspect of relaying the stories that we heard from RaY patrons to the students passing by.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to raise the same levels of donations, with the vaccine rollout, Montazeri anticipates this year will not be as difficult as 2021.
There has been more of a push for its promotion through some in-person activities this year, including a pool tournament as well as a trivia night at Across the Board Game Café. From March 20 to 25, there will be booths promoting 5 Days for the Homeless on campus.
Montazeri said those who visit the booths will “get to engage and talk with committee members and the 5 Days committee this year, past sleepers and current volunteers.” The funds raised will be used for educational purposes.
“There’s an education stream [as well as] skills and fundamental workshops will help youth from whatever age they might be in different categories from sustainability to cooking to resumé workshops to [the] kinds of skills that would help them in the professional field,” Montazeri said.
For more information and to donate to the cause, individuals can visit 5daysum.ca. Information can also be found on the campaign’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages.