‘Warming up’ to help the homeless

Community nursing students Tasha Tennant (left), Jen Dicks, Michelle Crone and Carly Lunn (right) with some of the items they have collected for homeless people in Durham Region. Photo credit: John Elambo

Durham College students can drop off shirts, shoes, socks, and sweaters to help people in need through the “Warm up to Poverty” project this week.

Four students in the Durham College Practical Nursing program, along with one of their placement instructors, and Daniel Cullen, an Oshawa man who was homeless and is now the founder of H.O.P. E. Coalition, started the “Warm up Poverty” campaign to spread awareness about the number of people living on the streets in this region.

“That’s what the idea of warming up to poverty is,” says Cullen. “It’s people realizing what people don’t have and because they don’t have, they try to survive so they put on two sweaters, a shirt, two jackets, two pairs of pants.”

According to the Point in Time (PiT) Count, the measure of the number of homeless people on a specific day, there were 291 people experiencing homelessness in Durham Region in April.

Nursing students first helped homeless people back in September. The first group of did a sock drive and distributed more than 400 pairs across Durham Region. Now there’s a second group involved with “Warm up to Poverty.”

Student Carly Lunn says she engaged people on social media, Facebook and Riot Radio to spread the awareness and ask for donations.

“There’s still lots coming. Just throughout my nursing friends, my family, their family. We’ve talked to people and a lot of stuff are dropped off to the houses so it’s all actually going to be here,” says Lunn.

Cullen says they’ve collected some items but still have a long way to go.

“We’ve got several bags of stuff that we’ve collected along the way. Some coats, not enough coats, and we’ve got socks,” says Cullen.

The main goal is to make people aware of homelessness in Durham Region and create some sense of empathy for the community and hope for those in need.

Lunn says she’s lucky to be a part of Cullen’s project and it’s making an impact on her community experience with nursing. Likewise, Cullen says he’s fortunate to be involved.

“They have to do community nursing, so the H.O.P. E. Coalition facilitates community nurses from Durham College to do their community placement and at the same time demystify homelessness. I do that,” he says.

The nursing students are also doing a fundraiser called “Toonie for Tummies” on Nov. 29.