THE city's only soup kitchen has been saved thanks to a Herculean effort by two Toowoomba community workers.

Jon Martlew and Nat Spary took up the challenge to be homeless for a week last Sunday.

They endured freezing temperatures, living with no toilets and sleeping on cold concrete.

Mr Spary was trying to save Toowoomba's only soup kitchen Basement Soup Kitchen and Mr Martlew was raising money for outreach program Rosies.

At last count they had raised more than $38,000.

Their gruelling challenge finished yesterday at 6pm.

HOMELESS: Jon Martlew (left) and Nat Spary spent their last night homeless sleeping on Margaret St.
HOMELESS: Jon Martlew (left) and Nat Spary spent their last night homeless sleeping on Margaret St. Neville Madsen

Mr Spary said the vitally-needed soup kitchen had been saved.

The kitchen costs about $50,000 a year to operate on a shoestring budget.

It is the only place homeless people in Toowoomba can go for a meal, which for some is the only thing they'll eat all day.

Mr Spary said feeding homeless people could help reduce crime and prevent people with addictions giving in to temptation.

The campaigner made an 11th hour bid to raise extra funds on Saturday night.

With 24 hours to go he decided to go barefoot as a grand finale to the challenge.

That was despite forecasts showing the temperature would drop as low as four degrees.

Mr Martlew said he'd learnt a lot by spending a week in the shoes of a homeless person.

"I know now that people aren't homeless by choice," he said.

The pair also learnt that many people in Toowoomba have in the past been homeless.

Neither man was truly prepared for the challenge and they soon realised that enduring the cold Toowoomba winter was their biggest problem.

Kind-hearted supporters dropped off blankets and jackets which eased their plight.

By mid-week they knew the location of every public toilet in the CBD.

Mr Spary said with the challenge over he would hug his kids, kiss his wife and then enjoy the comfort of a long hot bath.

He has other fundraising initiatives planned for later in the year.

For more information or to donate visit the website homelessforaweek.com.au.



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