Sudbury

Laurentian student fundraising to make sure fellow student won't be homeless again

As surprises go, one from a Laurentian University student to another could be nothing short of life-changing.

'University is hard enough as it is. I can't imagine being homeless on top of that,' says fundraiser Ben Done

Ben Done, left, and Gracia Lokofe pose for a selfie in front of a Laurentian University sign in Sudbury. Done, a residence proctor, found out that the new student on his floor had been homeless, and Done is fundraising to help make sure Lokofe doesn't end up on the street again. (Ben Done/gofundme.com/helpforgracia)

As surprises go, one from a Laurentian University student to another could be nothing short of life-changing. 

Matt Done, a proctor at Huntington Residence, was told this year that a new student would be moving onto his floor. Nothing out of the ordinary, it seemed — except that he found out the student, Gracia Lokofe, had been homeless. 

"It was a bit of shock, considering ... he was a student," said Done. "University is hard enough as it is. I can't imagine being homeless on top of that." 

Done said that he and Lokofe started to spend some time together, and chatting over meals, Lokofe told him that his family had immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Montreal, QC in 2007. 

"After awhile, he decided ... that he wanted to go to Laurentian — that was a goal of his," said Done. "He came up here all on his own."

He will pay it back to the world tenfold.- Ben Done

Done said Lokofe told him that he did have a place to stay at first, but that fell through, and by April 2016 he was homeless.

But, he stayed in school, pursuing his degree in Liberal Science. 

"That's at least one long, cold winter here in Sudbury to make it through, and the summer as well," said Done. "He worked jobs that he could find just in the job listings to make whatever money he could, and that's what he's been saving for his tuition and things." 

Until Wednesday, Gracia Lokofe didn't know that his friend Ben Done had been fundraising for him. Lokofe, a Liberal Science student at Laurentian University, had reportedly been homeless starting in 2016, until being admitted to Huntington Residence. (Ben Done/gofundme.com/helpforgracia)

Knowing how much more there is to paying for school than simply tuition, Done set up a GoFundMe page to help Lokofe — but he didn't tell him about the nearly $5000 that had so far been raised until Wednesday. 

"He couldn't believe that that many people were willing to donate to him," Done said of the surprise. 

Done is hoping to raise $15,000 in total for Lokofe.

"Asking for little, Gracia has been incredibly grateful for the help he has received so far," Done wrote on the GoFundMe page.  

"In the spirit of the holidays, I ask that we come together to help this young man get on his feet, because I know that once he does, he will pay it back to the world tenfold."

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