Coldest Night of the Year grateful for community support as it enters final push

With one week to go until the event sets out in the cold to raise funds for the YWCA, organizers are still about $12,000 short of their goal

Community members came out to walk and raise money for Prince Albert Community Meals on Feb 24, 2018 Participants included MLA Nicole Rancourt, Fire Chief Jason Everitt and Coun. Ted Zurakowski. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The annual Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser is set for another journey out into the cold.

The third annual walk will leave from Save-on-Foods, which is running events and draws in support of the fundraiser, on Feb. 23 at 5:15 p.m. Participants will journey either 2, 5 or 10 km. Participants heading down the shortest distance will walk to YWCA Our House and then head back. Participants of the 5 km distance will also head past the YWCA Wesley United Church location before journeying up the hill to the YWCA on Central Ave. by the Court of Queen’s Bench before heading back to Save-on-Foods. People doing the 10 km trip will complete that journey twice.

The routes will include rest stops with snacks along the way, and a meal will be served to all participants and volunteers at 6 p.m.

This year, the fundraiser is benefitting, fittingly, the YWCA.

“We’re anticipating a really good turnout. So far, we’ve got seven teams,” said organizer Shona Stapleton.

“We’re still looking for more, so hopefully this last week will give people  a chance to sign up.”

The event is fittingly named for the weather Prince Albert has been experiencing over the past few weeks, and for the cause, organizers are out to support.

“We’re partnered with the YWCA for Our House,” Stapleton said.

“Any funds we raise are going directly towards Our House for shelter, for food, and they also assist with helping to find housing and employment for their clients, as well as the administration costs.”

Stapleton said the event has had good sponsorship so far, and that teams had pledged almost $12,000. While she’s thankful for what’s been done, the event is still a far from its $25,000 target.

“If we can get a few more people opening up their wallets and putting on their walking shoes, that would be fantastic. It is a community-based fundraiser, so whatever is raised stays here.”

For anyone concerned about the cold, the event does serve as a reminder of how hard it can be for someone who doesn’t have a warm place to stay in the winter.

“I think it’s perfect timing,” Stapleton said.

“Not that I enjoy the cold weather, it just goes to show exactly what kind of temperatures the people we’re trying to reach out for have to live with on a daily basis.”

Our House, which is benefitting from the fundraiser, is an adult shelter for women and men. It has a crisis, transitional and cold weather shelter. The cold weather shelter operates during the winter months. It is a ten-bed cot program open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Beds are provided on a first come, first served basis. The crisis shelter provides emergency accommodation to men and women in crisis, with no referral necessary, while the transitional shelter is transitional housing designed for clients to stay up to a year.

“I think it takes a community to reach out and help those who are in need,” Stapleton said.

“If you don’t have that community support — I would hate to think what would happen to someone that I love possibly out on the streets and not having food or not having anywhere they feel safe. I think it’s essential that everyone gets involved in helping out their community.

“These are our community people. Let’s help those that are at risk.”

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