HOPE House's annual Coldest Night of the Year event will look quite different this year.
Because of the safety challenges posed by walking in large groups as a result of the pandemic, the CNOY team decided to make the event a hybrid where community members can either choose to walk one of the two predetermined routes starting at HOPE House or register their own route online and walk that one instead.
“The most important thing is that our committee and CNOY, the national program, puts community safety as our absolute top priority following the best protocols as per public health,” said Sean Yo, chairperson of Guelph’s CNOY.
The event is scheduled to take place on Feb. 20. Those interested in registering their groups can do so here. All proceeds raised go directly to HOPE House to support ongoing services and programs.
Last year's event exceeded its target or $96,000 and raised $105,116 with 364 walkers registered on 47 teams.
This year's goal is to raise $96,000.
“The people who need the most help, the most marginalized, the most vulnerable in our community, they need our help more than ever as we all face the challenges and we feel how things are difficult under COVID,” said Yo.
“Those that have less and less opportunity are feeling even greater pressure.”
Yo added that during this time, the urge and the desire to do something constructive in the community is something everyone can identify with.
He said this year’s event was in preparation since last year by the CNOY’s parent organization, Blue Sea Foundation.
“They’ve had an opportunity to run other events during these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic and they’ve had excellent success in both community safety and continuing to be able to fund the important community service work that they’re helped enable,” said Yo.
This year, it's a complete outdoor event,” said Yo adding that walkers will also be able to access the HOPE House washroom.
Yo said while organizers are committed to continuing the important work, the event could change because of the rapidly changing circumstances.
“Despite how important this event is, nothing is more important than community safety and for whatever reason, it's determined that we need to delay or defer this event, then that’s exactly what we are going to do,” said Yo.
He said the Guelph community can rest assured that the organizers will not forget about CNOY.
“This is something we’re very much committed to and when it's safe for us to do,” said Yo.