Nova Scotia

'Some were sleeping on the bare floor': 47 mattresses donated to CBU students

Forty-seven Cape Breton University students will be sleeping more comfortably this weekend, thanks to a project initiated by local Rotary clubs.

Some students also reported sleeping on mattresses infested with bedbugs, using air mattresses

Chigozie Okolie helped launch the mattress project through CBU's Rotaract Club. (Holly Conners/CBC)

Forty-seven Cape Breton University students will be sleeping more comfortably this weekend, thanks to a project initiated by local Rotary clubs.

The goal was to provide free mattress and boxspring sets to first-year CBU students living off campus in unfurnished housing.

Gupreet Singh estimates that about eight out of 10 international students are living in unfurnished rental units, himself included.

"Most of them I see buying mattresses, used mattresses or air mattresses," he said.

While some students can afford to buy beds, others are struggling to make ends meet.

The mattress and boxspring sets cost about $10,000 and were purchased with donations from Rotary clubs, the Kiwanis Club and the Salvation Army, as well as a private donation. (Holly Conners/CBC)

When Chigozie Okolie first came to Nova Scotia from Nigeria in 2016, the 6-3 student was sleeping on a child-size mattress he'd received from a professor.

Okolie, who is now a research assistant at the university, helped launch the mattress project through CBU's Rotaract Club, with help from other local Rotary clubs, the Kiwanis Club, the Salvation Army and the Cape Breton University Students' Union. The mattress and boxspring sets cost about $10,000.

Applications were solicited from all first-year CBU students, both international and local, and they received about 130, which were then assessed based on need.

Gupreet Singh is just one of Cape Breton University's international students living in an unfurnished rental unit. (Holly Conners/CBC)

"Some were sleeping on the bare floor. Some were lucky to have sleeping bags. Some were just putting a blanket on the floor to sleep on," said Okolie.

Other students reported sleeping on mattresses infested with bedbugs, sharing a mattress with a friend or even renting mattresses.

The mattresses are being stored at the Salvation Army office in Sydney. On Friday, Rotarians with trucks will deliver them to the students.

Okolie is hoping others in the community will step up to help buy beds for the rest of the students who applied.

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