Saturday may not be the coldest night of the year. But whatever the weather may bring, several hundred walkers will take to the sidewalks for Lakeside Hope House’s annual Coldest Night of the Year fundraising event.
Hope House hopes to raise $50,000 for an event now in its fourth year, money that will go to offset operational costs at the downtown agency that helps hundreds of individuals and families each month that struggle with poverty, hunger and homelessness.
Coldest Night of the Year is a national initiative of Blue Sea Philanthropy, and now involves 100 communities across the country. Blue Sea is a charitable organization that helps other charities earn money and become sustainable.
As of Tuesday, Lakeside’s Coldest Night had collected just over $20,000 toward its goal, with 30 walking teams signed up. There is room for more teams, and donations are most welcome, said Victoria Kinlin-Hynes, the development director of Hope House.
“We’re at 40 per cent of the total right now, and that’s good,” she said.
Steady donations tend to flow in the days just before the event, and for days after it happens, she added.
“This is one of Blue Sea’s biggest events, and they get organizations like Hope House involved, and support them through this walk,” Kinlin-Hynes said. “It’s a fun walk, a family event, but one where you also learn about homelessness and hunger, and the hurt that the cold can bring to people’s lives.”
There are three distances in the walk – two, five and 10 kilometers. Walking in the cold gives participants a sense of it may feel like to be homeless and wandering the streets of the city during the cold season.
“It’s a good way to empathize will those who feel the hurt of the cold,” she said.
Participants in the walk get a bright blue togue with the name of the event emblazoned on it. The hundreds of walkers will create a moving sea of blue, Kinlin-Hynes added.
The cumulative national goal for Coldest Night of the Year this year is $4 million, and $1.88 million has now been raised by partner charities. There are over 13,000 walkers signed up across the country.
Guelph walking teams are being creative with their names. Among the 30 groups are Warm Heart Cold Feet, You’re Not at the Beach, Lick a Frosty Flag Pole, and Grace Revealed.
Registration starts Saturday at 4 p.m., with opening ceremonies at 5 p.m. The walk gets underway at 5:15 p.m. A light meal will be served at Hope House from 6-8 p.m. The registration fee is $25.
Organizers suggest walkers wear good walking shoes or boots, a hat or toque, gloves and a scarf, and a warm jacket.
“The money helps us run our programs from day to day,” Kinlin-Hynes added. “We run our food market and clothing program almost every single day.”
There is currently a strain on the food supply due to strong demand in the community.
Food donations are needed.
Check out Hope House programs at http://lakesidehopehouse.ca/services/.
Visit https://coldestnightoftheyear.org/ to learn more about the national initiative, and https://coldestnightoftjheyear.org/location/guelph for more information on the local effort and to donate.
According to its mission statement, Hope House is dedicated to tangible, compassionate assistance to any Guelph resident living in poverty.