Dalhousie students go homeless for a week to raise money for charity

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Dalhousie students go homeless for a week to raise money for charity

Four Dalhousie students have set up camp on Halifax's University Avenue this week, spending their days and nights on cardboard boxes.

The commerce students are taking part in the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign, donating 100 percent of any funds raised to a local charity.

The students had nothing but a couple of tarps and sleeping bags to protect them from the high winds, snow and rain of the nor'easter that swept into the city on Tuesday night. 

"It's one of the most challenging things I've ever done." said Kenny Johnston, a fourth-year commerce student.

Cold nights

 This year, Phoenix Youth — a non-profit in Halifax dedicated to supporting at-risk youth between the ages of 11 and 24 — will receive the money the group raises. 

"Sunday night is was -17 C, -20 C, definitely not something we're used to sleeping out in," said student Katie Flanagan, who has been taking part in this campaign for four years. 

The students aren't allowed to shower or purchase any food and have to stay outdoors all week — the only exception being class time.

Limited bathroom access

They can go indoors to use the bathroom, but only until 10 p.m. when the Rowe building where the students attend class closes for the night.

Through the week, the core group of four students has been joined by so-called guest sleepers who want to take part and see how it feels to be homeless for a night.

Supporting youth

Soaked but not beaten, the group hung their sleeping bags over a balcony in the Rowe building to dry out on Wednesday morning.

The students hope to surpass their goal of raising $10,000, which will be handed over to Phoenix Youth on Friday when the campaign ends.

The money will be used to support the non-profit's youth homelessness programs.