Participants of The Coldest Night of the Year walk in front of The Root: Community Emporium on Feb. 25 in support of homelessness. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO
Registering to take part in the sixth annual Coldest Night of the Year walk will provide warm comfort to residents at the Lloydminster Men’s Shelter.
Heather Gray, the executive director of the shelter, is hoping enough people sign up for a 2 km to 10 km walk on Feb. 24 to exceed their perennial $20,000 fundraising goal.
“We don’t always meet that goal; I think we’ve only met it once; I’m always hopeful,” she said.
“We’ve got a bigger crew working on it this year and some extra volunteers, so I’m hoping to meet it this year.”
Gray is hoping for a turnout of about 100 walkers and 14 teams of five to seven people compared to the 84 people who took part last year.
The concept of the walk is to give participants an idea of the challenge faced by those experiencing homelessness, especially during what has been a cold winter so far.
The shelter extended its hours during last week’s cold snap following a similar situation over the Christmas holidays when the temperature plummeted.
“We have a formula when the weather reaches minus 20 Celsius, we open at 1 p.m., but when the temperature drops to -25 C or below, then we bring on more staff and we keep open all day,” said Gray.
The Coldest Night event is billed a “super-fun, family friendly fundraiser for hungry, homeless, and hurting families and youth across Canada, in 120 communities across Canada.”
The charity walk is operated by Blue Sea Philanthropy, a registered Canadian charity that exists to help other charities thrive financially by providing easy access to profitable turnkey fundraising events and services.
In 2015 the Coldest Night raised more than $3 million in partnership with 86 charities across Canada.
Everyone who registers for this year’s walk online at CNOY.org will receive a Coldest Night of the Year brand toque.
CNOY asks individual and youth teams aged 11-17 to fundraise a minimum of $75 and individual and adult teams $150 or pay a personal $25 registration fee that rises to $40 a person on Feb. 19.
The mapped route will begin and end at Grace United Church, with last minute on-site registration at 4 p.m. and the walk starting at 5 p.m.
Gray said participants can walk the route as many times as they want up to 10 km with route marshals on course to point the way.
“You can stop in at the church for coffee and hot chocolate and tea, and at the end of the walk we’ll have a supper,” said Gray.
She said last year it was chilli and it might be chilli again this year or a stew.
“The last couple of years we had some local entertainment and last year we also had some silent auction items, and we are hoping to put all that together again,” said Gray.
Gray always plans on completing the walk herself, but sometimes depending on the number of volunteers she finds herself helping out in the kitchen or with registration.
“But my family will be out walking,” she said.
Gray added Coldest Night walkers are also welcome to drop off winter gloves, scarves and hats for shelter residents.