5 Days for the Homeless Raises Thousands for Charity

CASA-Organized Event Raises Money and Awareness for Homelessness

Participants sit outside on the corner of Mackay St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd. Photo Nik Litzenberger

For the ninth year in a row, students at Concordia slept on the street to raise awareness for homelessness by living off of food donated by strangers in the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign.

The event took place on the corner of Mackay St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. from Sunday, March 15 at 5 p.m. to Friday, March 18 at 5 p.m. It is run by Commerce and Administration Students’ Association students and organized by Concordia alumni Josh Redler.

This year, Concordia raised approximately $12,000 out of a stated $15,000 goal.

Redler started the campaign at Concordia in 2008 while finishing his marketing degree at the John Molson School of Business. He is also the national co-chair for 5 Days for the Homeless.

“The expressed goal [of the event] is to raise much needed funds for local homeless charities,” he said. “And of course, the long term goal is to raise awareness, let people know what’s going on with homelessness, give people the experience so it kind of humbles them and gives them a different perspective.”

Those partaking in the event are required to remain on-campus for five days with only a sleeping bag and a pillow. Participants are required to continue attending classes or work, while living off of food donations and sleeping outside. They are also not allowed to use personal communication devices and they can’t shower.

Participants who stayed for the whole duration spent 120 hours outdoors.

“You see what they go through on a daily basis,” Redler explains. “Yes we have more privileges because we market it as a campaign, but you still get the feeling of being ignored most of the day by people who don’t want anything to do with you.”

All proceeds will go towards the charities Dans La Rue, which helps youth under 25, and Chez Doris, which provides shelter and services to women.

Since 2008, Concordia has raised $300,000 for the two charities. As of 2015, $1,657,650 has been raised nationwide through this initiative.

While donating money, clothes and food are necessities; this campaign stresses the importance of empathizing with the homeless.

“Just turn to them and go ‘hi, sorry to bother you, but have a good day,’” Redler said. “That single act alone could change someone’s day, week, and their mood.”

According to a study that surveyed 506 homeless service users in the UK, 61 per cent classified themselves at “lonely,” 37 per cent felt “often” isolated, and 35 per cent report that they lack companionship.

“Not being looked at for hours on end has such a psychological impact that you don’t realize can make someone happy,” Redler continued.

Correction: In a previous iteration of this article, the total amount raised for both Concordia and Mcgill was taken directly from the 5 Days For The Homeless website, however according to organizers those numbers didn’t take all donations into account, and were false. The Concordia donations have been changed to reflect the approximation of the organizers.