Northumberland County’s Coldest Night of the Year walk-a-thon is ready for whatever the pandemic throws at it, say its organizers. With nearly 50 walkers, 20 teams and close to 10 per cent of this year’s $75,000 goal committed, momentum is building for Green Wood Coalition’s largest fundraiser of the year in support of people experiencing hurt, hunger and homelessness.
The nation-wide walk takes place in 149 communities on Feb. 26, welcoming people to participate however they feel safest. In Northumberland, people can walk along a designated route in Port Hope with staggered start times on Feb. 26 or form their own groups, walking at a location and date of their choosing any time before the end of February. Last year’s event was held amidst Ontario-wide lockdowns, making only the second option possible. This year, participants will have a choice unless pandemic restrictions tighten.
Logistics aside, event chair Philip Redford says the community understands the seriousness of the homelessness situation and wants to step up.
“It’s visible. No one can deny it. I’ve seen people get hoisted from under the train bridge in Port Hope and moved away from doorways when someone calls the police. Where are people supposed to go?
There is a fundamental disconnect between what we are told should be happening and what’s happening in reality. The goal has to be to help people, shelter them, let’s provide them with resources.”
Across Canada, Coldest Night of the Year funds charities that help individuals who are hungry, homeless and hurting. Because all of the money raised in Northumberland stays here to fund Green Wood Coalition’s street-level support and programs for individuals who struggle with poverty, homelessness, mental health and addiction, the event offers a way — either by walking and raising funds yourself or by donating to a team listed on the event website — to improve the lives of our neighbours who are suffering disproportionately during these difficult times, Redford says.
Last year’s walk saw a record number of walkers, teams and donors, raising more than $100,000. He attributes that to a compassionate community realizing Green Wood fills a gap others don’t.
“I get a sense people see that Green Wood is really boots on the ground. Last year’s incredible support for Coldest Night of the Year was a response to the realization that, ‘Wow, we really see how bad things are, and only grassroots action will change this.’”
For event details, to register to walk or donate, visit: https://cnoy.org/location/porthope