A walk to raise funds that support local homeless and hungry people, the Coldest Night of the Year event organized by Woolwich Community Services is now in its fourth year.
This year’s outing, set for later this month, has a target of $75,000.
Organizers will be leading walkers on foot or virtually as they experience for a few hours the conditions that homeless individuals experience every day.
“The proceeds from the walk will support Woolwich Community Services, so support the homeless, hungry and hurting in our community. It has become a top fundraiser for us. It’s an important event also because it offers a safe and family friendly outing for the entire community to participate in,” said Leigh-Anne Quinn, community resource coordinator for WCS.
On February 26, Elmira residents will be bundling up to brave the cold alongside thousands of participants in some 150 cities.
“It is different from last year, so we are offering an in-person walk with the option to walk virtually. The differences this year will be that everything is outdoors. We won’t be able to gather for a meal afterwards, however – when walkers come back for their walk, they’ll get a takeaway meal.”
Instead of an evening walk, such as previous years, the walk will now be held longer from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to allow for more chance of social distancing.
“We’re asking teams and walkers to sign up for a time slot to come, as we’ll be allowing 20 people to come at a time. This will just basically help us social distance and limit the potential spread of COVID-19. We want to make sure that people feel safe and coming and participating,” said Quinn.
Teams or individuals can get creative to raise cold, hard cash to donate towards WCS’s 75-thousand-dollar goal that will help to feed many people in the community in the months to come. More and more people have been signing up to walk since the event first launched in Elmira.
“In 2021, at the beginning of February, we had roughly 74 walkers signed up and this year we have 95 signed up, so that brings the number up about over 20 walkers from last year. We see people start to register in the coming weeks, so we do hope to see 200-plus walkers come out and enjoy the event.”
Participants can sign up to walk and register themselves or attach themselves to a team or sign up a team through Woolwich Community Services website.
“Those who choose to walk virtually can walk at any time virtually in the month of February. We will be releasing soon the date for pickup for those who are walking virtually – if they have raised a certain amount of money, they’ll get their toque when they show up.”
To get a toque an adult will have to raise at least $150, while that’s $75 for youth participants. So far, WCS has been able to raise 57 per cent of their overall goal of 75 grand for this year.
“We’ve had some generous community sponsors, and we have also had some amazing teams that are out there really fundraising,” said Quinn.
WCS has seen an increase in the frequency in which individuals are coming to access their food services, making the need greater this year. Overall funding will go towards their food programs as well as their other services they provide for the community such as family violence prevention programs.
“The number of times that they access our services, whether it be a food hamper or self-help food shelf, has certainly increased. So, we do see the need for people to come more frequently to access the supports and services for those who are experiencing a limited income.”
WCS has remained open throughout the pandemic, providing essential services to those most in need.
More information and registration for the Coldest Night of the Year walk can be found online.