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Coldest Night continues steady growth in Guelph

As of Saturday evening, over $183,000 in donations have come in for Hope House Guelph

Year after year it seems, the Coldest Night of the Year continues to grow beyond organizers expectations.

Last year, the opening ceremony was held at the sanctuary at Hope House.

But due to the growth in participants – 594 walkers for this year at last check – Guelph Collegiate stepped up and offered its auditorium for registration and a home base.

Just under 600 walkers were signed up, and the goal of $200,000 was within reach. 

“We were in that 400-person space for one year, and outgrew it in one year,” said Sean Yo, one of the event co-directors.

GCVI volunteers also stepped up to provide a board game room, and for the first time ever, a karaoke room, to pass the time before everything got started.

Walkers chose between a 2 km and a 5 km walk, with all paths leading to Hope House for a curry dinner, cooked and served by Conestoga College culinary students.

As of Saturday at 7 p.m., over $183,000 was raised for Hope House. While that’s short of the $200,000 goal, it is still above the $175,000 raised in 2023.

“The sad part about that is that it’s so needed, and it’s needed even more,” Yo said.

“I don’t think anyone’s not feeling the squeeze at the grocery store and elsewhere these days. When you can’t provide for your family, or for yourself, it’s a very painful experience.”

Jaya James, the executive director of Hope House Guelph, said like many communities, Guelph is dealing with a housing crisis.

And while there are some without housing whatsoever, others who have a home are also struggling to put food on the table.

“This walk really goes along the idea of how do we support those who don’t have the home they need, don’t have the food they need, or are hurting,” she said. “There’s a lot of people hurting from a number of different things, especially from the emotional and mental health realities after going through a pandemic, and even just the realities of living life in a social media directed world.”

There is still time to donate. Yo said you have until the end of March to do so online.

The money raised stays local, and will help people with food, clothing, warm shelter, school programs and help to navigate people through what can be a complex social service system.


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Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Originally from Timmins, ON, Mark is a longtime journalist and broadcaster, who has worked in several Ontario markets.
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