After five nights of cold weather, mosquitos, a thunderstorm, and more than $16,000 in donations, the local high school students involved in 5 Days For Change are calling the fundraiser a success.
A total of 15 students from Swift Current Comprehensive High School forfeited everyday luxuries like cell phones and hot showers to sleep on the high school lawn. The goal was to raise $16,000 to complete a Southwest Street Culture youth shelter by December, and while things where tight at the end, the goal was reached just in time.
“I’m completely and utterly amazing that we were able to reach our $16,000 goal,” student leader Shawn Wiskar said.
The campaign started strong with $6,000 collected on the first day alone. It progressed steadily during other fundraisers, putting the students within reach of their goal. With time running out, Innovation Credit Union stepped up and offered to donate whatever amount was needed for the group to reach their objective.
“If it wasn’t for the Innovation Credit Union telling us they would cover what was left on our goal we wouldn’t have been able to present that check to $16,000 during the Redneck Betties game,” Wiskar said. “It has actually grown since then and we’re at almost $17,000, so we’ve really had an amazing response from the community.”
The fundraising was the important part, but it was also an educational five days for the students too. When severe thunderstorms forced the school to move them indoors do to safety issues, the students realized just what kind of hazards homeless people must deal with.
“We had it a little bit better than an actual homeless person would,” Wiskar acknowledged. “How crazy would it be to live through something like that, or even go through a Saskatchewan winter?”
It also got them thinking about the causes of homelessness. Swift Current doesn’t have a large homeless population, like Regina or Saskatoon. The students estimate that there are between six and 12 local youth who are homeless each night and they want to keep that number from getting any worse.
“If we can provide (homeless youth) with the support that they need they won’t have to move to these larger centres and be forced to go into actually sleeping on the street,” Wiskar said.
As a student leader, Wiskar took part in last year’s 5 Days for change event as well, but as a grade 12 student, this will be his last one. He said he’s thankful for all the support the fundraiser received from the community, and hopes there will be more of the same in the future.
“Being that it’s my last year, I really do hope that the students at the Comp see that this issue is something that our community does need to care about and continue on.”