He woke up Christmas Eve morning in the underground parking garage beneath city hall.
Where he’ll spend the night, he doesn’t know.
It’s a Christmas unlike any other for Heykel Kader.
The 36-year-old London gym owner is spending a week homeless in the Forest City to raise awareness and money for the city’s homeless youth.
He locked the doors to his Wortley Village home on Friday and won’t return until December 28.
While normally his Christmas is filled with friends, family and delicious food. This year he’s just doing what he can to stay warm. Bundled in a white jacket and black winter knit hat with the word ‘love’ written in red, he carries only a backpack filled with his sleeping bag, phone charger and a couple books.
“I’m so lonely. . . that’s one of the biggest things I’ve found,” he said. “Being able to make eye contact with people just so that you can actually communicate and show that the willingness is there to communicate, that just wasn’t there for me. My confidence level went from up here, to down there, just like that.”
Still he admits he’s been surprised at the kindnesses and encouraging words he’s experienced from people both in-person and through social media.
Kader is documenting his days on London’s streets using Twitter and Facebook, and has received a steady stream of well wishes since Friday.
He spent Christmas Eve morning selling toques for $10 outside the Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) building on Richmond Street. In just a few hours, he was able to sell 15, with all of the money going to support the city’s homeless youth.
Passersby stopped frequently to chat. And, while Kader admits Christmas isn’t in the foreground of his mind, he’s been surprised by the kindnesses offered to him by friends and strangers alike.
“I feel the spirit of people just loving people, that’s it. I don’t think it matters if it’s Christmas or if it’s not Christmas,” he said.
“I believe that people genuinely are really nice beautiful people, deep down inside. They want to do good stuff. They just need someone to give them a kick in the butt to get the ball rolling.”
Article by: Alex Weber, The London Free Press Monday, December 24, 2012 3:35:44 PM