By: ALISON SANDSTROM
As temperatures dipped below -20 Celsius on Wednesday, five Carleton University students prepared to spend their third consecutive night outside, wrapped in sleeping bags and buried under cardboard and tarps as protection from the cold.
The five students are taking part in the national campaign 5 Days for the Homeless. From March 10-15 they are living and sleeping outside, forgoing showers, eating and drinking only donated items, and attending all their regular classes. The group hopes to raise $10,000 for Operation Come Home, a local charity that works with homeless and at-risk youth.
“During the night it snowed five to 10 cm, so it was tough. I couldn’t feel my feet,” said Adam Lopez. The first year commerce student is wrapped in his sleeping bag, lying on the sidewalk outside the University Centre.
By Thursday at noon, they had raised $4,700.
Amanda Dundas, a fourth year international business student, said the response from students has been largely positive, and they’ve never been hungry thanks to many donations of food and hot drinks.
“Almost everyone is incredible. We get $20 donations all the time,” Dundas said.
Lopez said the most rewarding part of participating in the campaign is hearing from students who have experienced homelessness personally.
“We’ve had a few people come up and say, “Hey, I’ve been homeless in the past and things like Operation Come Homes helped me get back on my feet,’” said Lopez. “Just seeing the end goal of what we’re doing is really what’s helped us.”
Lopez and Dundas said their experience has taught them about the psychological effects of being homeless and also not to take what they have for granted.
“We’re outside for five days. People are outside for potentially years,” Lopez said.
“We’re fortunate enough to have warm sleeping bags and people giving us stuff, and we get to go home at the end of the week – some people don’t. We don’t realize the mental toll this can have on people,” he said.