Can you imagine what it would like to be homeless during a Northern Ontario winter?
Approximately 50 Saultites got to experience this Friday night during the Soup Kitchen Community Centre’s 12th annual Great Soup Kitchen Sleepover, where they filled James St. with cardboard boxes and slept in them for the night.
Soup Kitchen Executive Director Ron Sim said this poverty-simulating fundraiser is their biggest of the year, giving people a taste of what it could be like for them if they were to fall on hard times.
“We’re all maybe two or three paycheques away from poverty and being out on the streets,” he said.
“With our economic climate, we have to continue to raise awareness,” he continued, “with prices going up all the time and (the recent) power increase again across Ontario.
“People are being nickled and dimed at the grocery stores…poverty is affecting all of us, in one way or another now. Even if you make fairly good money, our money no longer has the buying power it had even five years ago.”
For high school students Taylor and Madison, this event was something they decided to partake in after seeing it on Facebook.
“It started with us taking (Madison’s) little brother’s box outside for fun,” Taylor said, “and then she was scrolling through Facebook and saw something about it so then we just decided that we wanted to do it.”
“We’re here because some people are on the streets and this is how we’re seeing it for the night to (experience) how it is,” Madison said.
The girls decorated their box in a Christmas theme and wore reindeer antlers to fit with the weather – and their favourite holiday.
They both said they think this is a good way to raise awareness about homelessness.
Sim mirrored that sentiment, also saying he thinks this event is an important way to raise awareness for this ever-growing issue that could happen to anyone at any time.
“People are people and we all have to try to learn to get along and to help everybody,” he said.
All proceeds from this fundraiser go towards the operations of the Soup Kitchen Community Centre.