Coldest Night of the Year supporting YWCA homelessness programs

Participants begin the Coldest Night of the Year walk at Save On Foods in February of 2019. This year's walk will take place on Saturday, Feb. 22. (Herald file photo)

A Prince Albert fundraising walk is supporting programs that keep people off of the streets.

The Coldest Night of the Year is a national campaign by Blue Sea Foundation raising money and awareness for homelessness.

This is the city’s fourth year taking part. Prince Albert Community Meals was the charity partner for the first two years, but passed it on to the YWCA last year.

Taking place on Saturday, Feb. 22, participants will be walking two, five or 10 kilometres, all starting at Save-On-Foods.

Fundraising Coordinator Nina Reynolds said roughly 60 people participated in 2019, raising about $19,000. The money allowed them to purchase additional beds for the cold cot program at Our House.

“It is really heartwarming because working in the frontline, you see all these people who need support. Without the funding, we can’t really help them that much,” she said.

“Now that we have the additional funds, we don’t have to turn people away anymore.”

The YWCA operates several programs assisting people struggling with homelessness. Our House contains cold weather and transitional shelters for both men and women and Central Avenue Residential and Youth Services offers shelter and transitional housing for women and children.

“When it gets really cold, that’s where we have waitlists because people don’t have anywhere to go, especially with our cold cot program where we accept anybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re drunk and you just need a place to stay, then they can go into the cold cot program. That program is always, always full.”

Reynolds explained that The Coldest Night of the Year funds help the YWCA to purchase groceries, furniture and clothing.

In another program, staff make sandwiches and distribute them to homeless people throughout the city.

“We buy all the bread and the lettuce and stuff like that, so that’s where the funds go as well,” she said.

This year, the Coldest Night of the Year in Prince Albert is hoping to raise $25,000.

Registration begins at 4 p.m. Opening ceremonies are at 5, followed by the walk starting at 5:15. Between 6 and 8 p.m., a light meal will be served to all walkers and volunteers.

Rest stops are available on all routes. The routes will be well signed and volunteers both will be there for support, both walking and driving.

Participants are asked to bring cash donations and cheques made out to Coldest Night of the Year, a completed pledge form or results form if you’re bringing cheques or cash, a signed waiver form if you’re under the age of 17 or didn’t pre-register and waterproof shoes and warm clothing.

To donate or register, visit www.cnoy.org/location/princealbert. You can also contact Nina Reynolds at (306) 765-2530 or ninareynolds.ywca@sasktel.net.