The Coldest Night of the Year is this Saturday.
At least that’s the name of a fundraiser for the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, also taking place in 135 other communities across the country. It is a walk-a-thon for charities “that serve hungry, homeless and hurting people in your town.
“The Coldest Night of the Year is a moment when tens of thousands of Canadians step outside the warmth and comfort of home and shine a light of welcome and inclusion,” says the event website.
As of Wednesday morning, the local fundraiser was at 45 per cent of its goal, at $11,400 of the $25,000 target. So far there are 43 walkers registered for the event, which is down from last year, said executive director Darrell Pilgrim.
Last year, the event saw one team raise more than $6,000, and many of the walkers earned themselves a Coldest Night of the Year toque. The event raised more than $25,000 in total.
With the number of walkers registered down, Pilgrim said the event may not hit that mark again in 2019.
“I don’t know if we will reach our goal, but even the support we’re getting is appreciated.”
This year, the event will be held at the Salvation Army’s extreme weather shelter at 22239 Lougheed Highway – across the street from the main office.
The Salvation Army will start taking registrations at 4 p.m., hold opening ceremonies at 5 p.m., and then 15 minutes later the walks begin for all distances. There will be a chilli dinner served to all walkers and volunteers from 6-8 p.m., with both vegetarian and meat chilli on the menu.
A band will offer live entertainment before and after the walks.
There is a 2 km walk, a 5 km walk and a 10 km walk, with rest stops on all routes.
To take part, youth 11-17 must fundraise $75 minimum or pay a registration fee of $40, and adults must fundraise a minimum of $150 or pay the registration fee.
All walkers 10 and under are free, but all those 12 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The money raised will be used for Ridge Meadows Ministries programs that support individuals and families in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows struggling with poverty, addictions, mental illness, hunger and housing. Social services programs include a community meal program serving 10,000 meals to over 600 individuals monthly, as well as shelter for 60 people each night, summer camps and school lunches.
“We would love to have everyone come out to show their support for the programs we have in our community for people who are hungry and homeless,” said Pilgrim.