Warm hearts keep giving at Coldest Night of the Year

Even though it was freezing cold outside, roughly 60 local residents were still eager to go for a weekend stroll.

The reason? The annual Coldest Night of the Year Walk on Saturday, which had participants in easily identifiable blue and white toques braving frigid conditions for 2 km and 5 km walks, and raising more than $18,000 for YWCA’s Our House in the process.

Walk coordinator Nina Reynolds said she was surprised and grateful for the strong community support.

“I’m speechless really,” she said. “I didn’t expect this many people to show up, because it is cold out there. We are very, very happy we got a big turnout.”

Anyone taking part in an event that bills itself as “Coldest Night of the Year” can expect to deal with freezing conditions, but unfortunately this year’s event got a little too cold.

With temperatures hovering at around -16 C at the 5 p.m. start time, Reynolds and the organizing team made the decision to cancel the 10 km portion of the walk.

That cancelation was the only setback on Saturday, as participants inched closer to the $25,000 fundraising goal, with several donations still to come in the next few days.

“Although our goal is $25,000 and we want to reach $25,000, we didn’t really think that we’d reach that high,” Reynolds said. “We are very happy to get (close) to that number.”

Funds raised from this year’s walk will go towards Our House, which provides crisis, transitional and cold weather shelters in Prince Albert, as well as numerous other services. Reynolds said Our House services are always in high demand, so strong financial support is required to keep meeting that need.

“We are always over capacity, so that means we need the money to continue operating so that we can have those homeless people now be fed, sheltered,” she explained. “Then we also help them find employment and find permanent housing so we can end the cycle of homelessness.”

Although Reynolds had her cold weather walking gear on hand, and was eager to head out with everyone else, she ended up staying behind to help oversee perpetration for the warm drinks and snacks, which were provided to participants when they returned after their walk.

Reynolds did have a few family members head out, and two of her kids on hand to lend support where they could. She wants the event to have a welcoming family atmosphere, which hopefully will draw even more people out in 2020.

“My two-year-old is here. My seven-year-old is here. My nephews, they are here. I think even though it’s cold, they can still do something,” she said. “I just want to invite more people to participate.”

Coldest Night of the Year Walk-a-thons are held in 136 communities across Canada to raise money for charities that serve hungry, homeless and hurting people. Since starting in 2011, it has raised more than $21.4 million.

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