(Left to right) Basil Belliveau, Cat Baron and Kianna Tikivik fundraising for the 24-hour homelessness event on Oct 20. Photo credit: Alex Lambert

As Ottawa gets set to plunge into yet another Canadian winter, student volunteers from Algonquin College set out to raise money for homeless youth, returning for the first time since 2016.

Students from the college’s community and justice services program took to Elgin Street over a damp weekend in late October for 24 hours to raise awareness and fundraise for Operation Come Home.

The fundraiser has generated over $1,500 so far and will continue as a yearly exercise for the program.

Cat Baron, the event’s organizer and a community and justice services professor, has been involved with the 24-hour homelessness fundraiser for over a decade.

“I’ve done this for 12 years when we used to do it and I’m really glad to have brought it back,” she said.

The event started on Friday, Oct 20., ending at 2 p.m. the next day,

Eight per cent of homeless youth remain living on the streets, according to Operation Come Home.
Eight per cent of homeless youth remain living on the streets, according to Operation Come Home. Photo credit: Alex Lambert

Brittany Moore, a community and justice services program alumni working for Operation Come Home, says human decency is the first step to helping the homeless.

“If you’re doing your thing and see someone experiencing homelessness, just show them some respect and decency,” she said. “Even if you don’t have money just give them a smile and ask them how they’re doing. It goes a long way.”

Moore visited the year-two students at the fundraiser to drop off some merch and show support for the outreach initiative.

“There’s an absolute need for safe and affordable housing, more shelter beds and more supportive housing options,” she said. “It’s essential and everyone deserves it.”

Operation Come Home launched the 24 Hours Of Homelessness event in 2002 with a goal of drawing attention to the realities of poverty and things we take for granted, along with fundraising efforts.

After 50 years of helping homeless youth, the non-government organization has served 16,512 hot meals, and helped 280 youth participate in employment programs in 2022 alone.

“Everyone deserves to have a safe place to go so I’m really excited to be able to contribute to that,” said Abbey Kutyma, a student in the community and justice services program.

To support the cause, donations can be made on GoFundMe.