UBC Okanagan students are homeless on campus for one week

Left to right: Andrew Herrington, Tania Vig, Nikki Karn, Dan Draht and Laurens Breugem are taking part in 5 Days for the Homeless, a nationwide charitable campaign that aims to raise awareness about homelessness while raising funds for a local charity.

Five UBC Okanagan students and one faculty member are spending the week on campus, relying entirely on the kindness of others to meet their basic needs.

The initiative, 5 Days for the Homeless, is a nationwide charitable campaign started five years ago by the School of Business at the University of Alberta. The campaign begins 5 p.m. Sunday, March 14, and ends 5 p.m. Friday, March 19. The goal is to raise awareness about homelessness while raising funds for a local charity.

"The Management Students Association (MSA) at UBC Okanagan is collecting money for the United Way," says Laurens Breugem, a third-year management student who will be taking part in the week-long event. "Homelessness is a huge issue, yet it's one that could be solved if enough people devoted their energy to finding a solution.

"We wanted to be a part of this initiative because we feel homelessness is an important issue for management students. Many of us will eventually be in positions to bring change; and, as a group, we want to get in the habit of community activism."

UBC Okanagan management students are among students of 20 business schools in Canada who decided to participate in the campaign this year. Although the MSA was responsible for bringing the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign to UBC Okanagan, two of the five students participating in the week-long challenge are from other programs.

To take part participants must:

  • Remain on campus
  • Have no money -- 100 per cent of any cash donated is passed on to the United Way
  • Only receive food through direct donations
  • Have no access to showers. Washrooms can only be accessed when campus buildings are open.
  • Sleep outside using only a pillow, sleeping bag and cardboard.
  • Attend all classes.
  • Avoid personal communication media, such as Facebook and cell phones.

"It's about going without all the comforts we take for granted," says Breugem. "Our goal is to raise a minimum of $2,000 for the United Way, although we do hope to exceed that amount."

To close out the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign, the MSA will host a lunchtime fundraiser barbeque on Thursday for the campus community. Students will also be selling, by donation, 5 Days for the Homeless wristbands throughout the week.

Anyone who would like to donate can make a cash donation in the courtyard to one of the participants at the "camp-out" location, buy a wristband, or visit http://www.5days.ca/ and choose "Kelowna".

"As well, anyone who wants to follow our experience can visit the website and read our blog," says Breugem.

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