Seven U of M students have chosen to brave the cold for nearly a week as part of the 5 Days for the Homeless charity campaign.
Groups of university students nationwide will spend five days living outdoors to raise money, both through online donations and several events including a social, for a local charity.
The U of M chapter donates its proceeds to Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY), a non-profit organization that provides programs and services that support homeless youth in Winnipeg.
The students are staying in a temporary shelter outside of UMSU University Centre from March 10 to 15. The sleepers are not allowed to bring food, water or money, just the clothes on their backs, a pillow and sleeping bag. They rely entirely on donated goods to eat and drink.
The sleepers are expected to attend all of their classes during the week.
Liam McNeill, a fifth-year Asper student, said it has not been too difficult yet, and with the forecast calling for a sunny week, he’s hoping the weather will help in getting people out to donate.
“It’s been a good time,” he said.
“Some good people doing it with us, had some friends drop by and help us out with some hot chocolate and stuff, but yeah, it’s been alright so far.
“It’s supposed to be a lot warmer this week than in past years, so hopefully we can raise a lot of money. People are outside.”
McNeill said he chose to get involved after seeing the event take place in previous years.
He said he hopes to learn something from spending the week outdoors.
“I’ve seen it in the past, it seemed like an interesting experience, to gain something, a different perspective on how people live here in our city,” he said.
McNeill hopes other students will also learn something from the event.
“Everyone kind of has a perception about homelessness – I mean, it’s a pretty common thing here in Winnipeg, and having gone and visited RaY, it’s interesting to see people our own age who are struggling with this kind of thing, and you don’t really think about that,” he said.
“We have so many privileges, and then you see this, and all of a sudden it puts everything in perspective. Just to take a minute and think about what you have, and you might not think you might be able to give a lot but, doing something like this, I’m a broke student just like most people here and I managed to find a way to give back.”
Stephanie Kalo, public relations co-ordinator for 5 Days UManitoba, is taking part in the campaign for the second year in a row, though this year in a more involved position.
“I was involved briefly with the 5 Days campaign last year as one of the volunteers who walked around campus collecting donations,” she said.
“During that experience I was pleasantly surprised by the support and generosity displayed by students from all over campus. That experience left me eager to contribute in a greater capacity this year.”
Kalo also said students are welcome to stop by the shelter.
“We’re really hoping to encourage students to visit the sleepers during the week to talk to them about their experiences, see firsthand what it’s like and keep them company.”
Students can donate online at 5daysum.ca/donate.