Renniessance help the homeless

By Kevin Woodhouse

the island of Montreal in 2011 when they raised enough canned goods for a local food bank’s pantry to be stocked for two full years.

And while the school has never stopped giving to Dans La Rue, a city based non-profit agency that helps street kids, this fall the Renniessance program is helping to raise awareness about homelessness in Montreal as well as collecting coffee for the area shelters.

“Last year when we worked with Nazareth House, we found out that coffee is a luxury in shelters and that a single shelter can go through 1,400 cups of coffee a week,” Renniessance coordinator Brian Swirsky told The Suburban.

“Coffee is seen as a golden resource and besides warming someone up on a cold, winter’s day, it is also a chance for people to sit and share with each other by sharing a coffee, just like everyone else,” Swirsky said.

The students in the Renniessance program are collecting tins of coffee, money donations or monetized cards from coffee outlets and everything collected will go towards Nazareth House, a halfway house for homeless men, where any excess will be distributed amongst nearby shelters.

The school will soon be plastered with large coffee beans that contain information about homelessness and students are invited to take part in an educational scavenger hunt. Each large bean boasts some information such as “30,000 Montrealers are considered homeless.”

“We wanted to raise awareness about the issue through a fun activity as opposed to me just lecturing the students,” said Swirsky. The Renniessance participants contributed to the scavenger hunt and the upcoming collection drive.

Swirsky noted that the students, now that the weather is getting colder, have taken to the task of helping out for the drive that takes place next Thursday, Nov. 28 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The general public is invited to drop off tins, money or cards at John Rennie High School, 501 St. John Blvd. in Pointe Claire.

“We don’t have an objective for this collection but we would be happy to plant the seed so that the idea of a coffee collection might go across the city,” said Swirsky.

Students from Riverdale High School have visited with the Renniessance classes to exchange ideas and to learn about large fundraising programs, such as collecting 160,000 lbs. of food two years ago.

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