Through wind, rain, sleet or snow, people experiencing homelessness face the elements every day. Local individuals and families can get a sense of that experience – and give back to initiatives working to make a difference – during the Coldest Night of the Year.
The “super-fun, family-friendly fundraiser” raises money for those who are hungry, homeless and hurting in Langley and Aldergrove. Since 2014, Gateway of Hope’s Coldest Night of the Year event has raised more than $78,000!
“Last year, 10 minutes into the walk it poured with rain,” recalls Krista Hannan, Gateway for Hope fundraising coordinator. “While many people chose the shorter distances due to the weather, everyone had smiles on their faces then warmed up with chili and hot chocolate when they got back.”
The weather-hampered walk offered a glimpse of what’s experienced regularly by those on the streets, and on their return, participants also saw the room where they kicked off the event turned over to the cold-weather protocol. Mats, pillows and blankets were set out on the floor to provide a warm, dry place to sleep for 30 homeless individuals that night, Hannan recalls.
Start the conversation
“The Coldest Night of the Year is a real family-friendly event, with lots of children,” Hannan says.
It’s also a great way to start a conversation with children about homelessness. Parents can say, “We’re going to be cold for a while when we have our walk but then we’ll have a hot meal and go home to our warm beds. Not everyone gets to do that.”
The need for the event is impossible to ignore. In fact, last year’s numbers showed a 124 per cent increase in homelessness in Langley and Aldergrove.
Support your community
Despite cold temperatures and blowing rain, Hannan was pleased to see increased numbers last year, and they’re hoping to welcome more than 200 this year.
“It really builds the profile of what we’re trying to do,” she says.
Proceeds support a variety of Gateway of Hope programs for Langley and Aldergrove, including seniors’ initiatives, sending children in need to the Salvation Army’s Camp Sunrise in Gibsons, filling backpacks with school supplies, regular community dinners to provide connections and a hearty meal, and Skillet 101, a free, six-week community kitchen program open to all.
To join the Coldest Night of the Year Walk for Homelessness:
- Register at cnoy.org/register
- Participants can choose from 2km, 5km or 10km routes.
- Encourage friends, families and others to join you or donate!