Prominent Toronto residents, including police chief Bill Blair and Starbucks president Annie Young-Scrivner slept outside on Thursday night to raise money for Covenant House.
Together, they raised more than $700,000 for the charity, which provides shelter and services to homeless youth.
Covenant House “is probably the best place in Toronto that provides services to homeless youth,” Blair told CityNews.
“It’s a place where a kid can go, ring that doorbell at three o’clock in the morning and there’s going to be somebody in there that gives them a helping hand, a little bit of warmth, care and compassion. It’s an important place.”
Porter Airlines president Robert Deluce and Sleep Country Canada president Christine Magee also joined in the sleepover, bedding down with only a sleeping bag and piece of cardboard.
They joined 74 others in the second annual Covenant House Executive Sleep Out.
“It was uncomfortable but it was only a small glimpse of the hardship kids can face on the street,” Bruce Rivers, executive director of the country’s largest agency for homeless youth, said in a statement.
Rivers, who also slept out, said “we are overwhelmed and deeply grateful to our participants for their efforts in support of our kids. This event helps shine a light on the plight of homeless youth, raises much-needed funds and shows our young people that the community is behind them.”
Covenant House relies on donors for 80 per cent of its $20-million annual operating budget. Staff provides crisis shelter, run a longer-term residential program and offer services, such as education, counselling, health care, employment assistance and job training to about 3,000 youths every year.