By McGill Reporter Staff
Last week, a group of empathetic McGill students braved trying conditions – including a record-breaking blizzard – to raise funds for some of the city’s most vulnerable people. McGill’s 5 Days for the Homeless (5D4H) exceeded its goal by raising over $12,000 for Chez Doris and Dans La Rue, organizations that support homeless people in Montreal.
“There but for fortune go!” says the classic Phil Ochs song, “Show me the alley, show me the train / Show me a hobo who sleeps out in the rain / And I’ll show you a young man with so many reasons why / There but for fortune, may go you or I”
This lesson was taken to heart by the McGill students lived outside from Monday to Friday without access to showers and eating only food that was given to them by compassionate passersby. Participants also went without cell phones, tablets or any electronic devices. When they weren’t on campus soliciting donations for the cause, they were required to attend their regular classes.
“It is pretty tough to sleep outside and especially not to be able to have a shower and clean up. The reactions of some of the people who walked right past us was a bit upsetting, too,” said Suraiya Foss-Phillips, a Political Science student who spent five days living outside, including overnight during the snow storm that shut down the campus on Wednesday, March 15.
Foss-Phillips and her fellow 5D4Hers moved their sleeping bags under the walkway near the Redpath Library to avoid being buried by the 40+centimetres of snow that clobbered the city.
The 5 Days for the Homeless movement was founded at the University of Alberta’s School of Business in 2005. It became a pan Canadian event in 2008. It has raised over $2 million dollars for community groups that try to reduce the suffering of homeless people across Canada. Participants sleep outside, and eat what is donated while attending class.