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Commerce students run virtual 5 Days campaign to raise money for youth experiencing homelessness in Halifax
You can usually see Commerce students in bright orange t-shirts sleeping outside the Rowe Building for a week in March, collecting money for Phoenix Youth Programs from passersby. This year, the tradition continues online.
Keevan Veinot, the 2021 organizer, worked with Mark McIntosh, the community engagement coordinator at Phoenix to brainstorm a way to emulate the traditional 5 Days campaign. “Virtual sleepers” will participate by either sleeping on their floors for five nights or by spending $5 a day for food and donating their remaining grocery budget.
Keevan thinks this format is important to help raise awareness about youth homelessness among participants and donors. It’s a nationwide concern that is particularly relevant in Halifax as housing is becoming less affordable. He wanted something that would help the campaign stand out this year, even though they won’t be able to engage with students and faculty members coming to and from classes.
Phoenix has continued serving youth throughout the pandemic, both in person at their shelters and through online and telephone appointments. “For youth experiencing homelessness, finding shelter or safe housing, access to food and health care or even finding warm clothing can be precarious,” says McIntosh in a video message to participants. “COVID-19 created an extra barrier to accessing these essential needs.”
Over the years, the Dalhousie Commerce Society has raised over $67,000 during 5 Day events. Keevan says that’s a substantial part of Phoenix’s yearly budget. In 2020, the campaign was scheduled to start the same week that Dalhousie began the abrupt mid-semester transition to online classes and had to be cancelled. Even though it is not possible to hold the event outside the Rowe Building this year, they knew they couldn’t pause the campaign again.
While it comes at a busy time of year for students, Keevan and his team are up for the challenge. “I’m looking forward to it as much as I’m not,” he says, referring to an expected drop in his sleep quality. “We really just want to raise awareness for an important cause.”
Support the campaign
To support the Dalhousie virtual sleepers and donate to Phoenix Youth Programs, visit their 5 Days campaign page.
Learn more about Phoenix Youth programs on their website.
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