CEOs of Leading Companies Sleep out for Homeless Kids at Covenant House

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Top Toronto business leaders will gather to sleep outside on the night of Nov. 21 to raise funds for homeless kids at Covenant House. The second annual Covenant House Executive Sleep Out expects nearly 80 participants to spend the night of Nov. 21 outside. Last year’s event raised over $500,000 to help the agency care for about 3,000 youth annually.

All leaders and their businesses need to be very involved in their communities,” says Peter Aceto, President and CEO of ING Direct Canada.

CEOs and presidents from some of Canada’s leading companies, including Starbucks Canada, Samsung Electronics Canada, Purolator Inc., Porter Airlines Inc. and ING Direct Canada will be sleeping out on the pavement with only a sleeping bag and a piece of cardboard to get a small glimpse of the hardships kids can face on the street.

The business leaders will join honorary co-chairs Arlene Dickinson, CEO of Venture Communications and and venture capitalist on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and Tim Leiweke, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) President and CEO.

“The commitment these industry leaders have made sends a strong message to our homeless youth,” says Covenant House Toronto Executive Director Bruce Rivers, who is also among those sleeping out and raising funds. “By spending a cold night on the street, the CEOs are showing our kids that the business community cares about their wellbeing and believes in their potential.”

Annie Young-Scrivner, the recently appointed President of Starbucks Canada, explains that she was inspired to participate as a mother of two young children. “It breaks my heart that over 10,000 kids in Toronto live and sleep on the street every year,” she says. “I know that sleeping out in the middle of winter for one night will not truly represent the experience of a homeless youth, but it will provide me more insight into their experiences and perhaps a better understanding of how I can contribute.”

Samsung Electronics Canada President James Politeski also mentions parenthood as an inspiration. “I can't imagine kids so much like my own living life on the street. I am proud to support this cause and to help bring awareness to the great work that Covenant House Toronto continues to do each and every day to help bring hope to these kids and show them their full potential.”

“All leaders and their businesses need to be very involved in their communities,” says Peter Aceto, President and CEO of ING Direct Canada. “But to truly help any cause, you need to understand it.” He explains he is especially looking forward to meeting some of the youth that Covenant House has helped.

Porter Airlines President and CEO Robert Deluce is returning after his experience sleeping out last year, which he calls “humbling”. He explains, “You don’t get a good night’s sleep, you don’t want to be doing this every night and it is cold.”

Patrick Nangle, president of Purolator, believes that one of our Canadian values is the strong desire to lend a hand to neighbours and friends in times of need. He wants to sleep out because no one in a country like Canada should go hungry or have to sleep on the street.

More than a place to stay, Covenant House provides 24/7 crisis shelter and a longer-term residential program along with comprehensive services, including education, counselling, health care, employment assistance and job training. To do all this, Covenant House Toronto relies on donors for 80 percent of its $20-million annual operating budget.

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Rose Cino
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