Frigid temperatures a reminder what the upcoming Coldest Night of Year walk is all about

By Aaron Mahoney (@Mahones93 on Twitter)
February 9, 2019 - 8:00am

LETHBRIDGE – One of the most important nights of the year for the Streets Alive Mission, and for the less fortunate in Lethbridge, is quickly approaching.

The ‘Coldest Night of the Year’ website is live, and organizers are asking people from local businesses, churches, and other community groups are encouraged to sign up now to start gaining support to help reach their fundraising goals well in advance of the charity walk taking place on Feb. 23.

Marie McLennan, the Mission’s Associate Director of Philanthropy, says the Coldest Night of the Year is one of the keynote events they have every year, and it’s definitely an awareness event.

“When we get temperatures like what we’ve had this past week, I’ve had several calls from people saying, ‘I want to get involved with Coldest Night because I understand now’. If you think about how inconvenient it is to warm up the car in the morning or plug it in at night, it does make a person stop and think about the people who can’t get in from the cold.”

Local walkers will join with those in other communities across Canada to bring awareness of the plight of the poor and 'Put a Freeze on Poverty' in Lethbridge. The walk is a family-friendly winter fundraising event for Lethbridge's hungry, hurting and less-fortunate.

Walkers will be raising funds and inviting others to walk with them in teams for many weeks before the event.

Each walker and each team will be looking for the support of their friends and family to make the fundraiser a success, not to mention the encouragement needed to face a possibly brutal winter night in Lethbridge.

“We’re always busy as we have a pretty constant flow of people through the Mission, but with these temperatures, we can see those numbers easily doubling in a day,” McLennan continued. “Mostly people just seeking refuge, just seeking a place where they can warm up for an hour to get away from this unrelenting cold. It’s really tough on our people, their general health is not that good to begin with, and when you get temperatures like this it can become very critical.”

Streets Alive Mission has been serving Lethbridge for 29 years, and the funds raised in the ‘Coldest Night of the Year’ will benefit their clients in a time of the year known historically for low levels of giving.

This is the eighth year that the Mission has hosted this walk, and it’s been a hugely impactful event and not just financially according to McLennan.

“That is, of course, the purpose of it, and that injection of cash at this time of year is at a really critical time because the demands on the Mission are at an all-time high with these kinds of temperatures. We’re kind of heading out of the giving season around Christmas, so having that injection of cash is really important, but mostly just making people aware.

“When people start thinking about Coldest Night of the Year, they go ‘oh yeah, I get it we’re going to be cold for an hour but the people we’re doing this for are cold 24 hours a day’. It really has a huge impact, and it’s a great family-friendly event so it helps transfer that information to the kids. It helps make them care and be aware of who these people are that they see in the city because they’re residents too. It gives them a chance to have a conversation about that and what this really means,” McLennan stated.

They’re hoping for 200 walkers on 40 teams to raise $60,000 to help aid their work with the less-fortunate in Lethbridge, and McLennan says the numbers they're seeing nearly two full weeks out from the event have organizers excited.

“We’ve seen a lot of new walkers and teams sign up already and there’s a lot of time left to get involved or volunteer. We’ve got a big goal of $60,000 that we need to raise through the event and the more people that get involved the closer we’re going to get to that goal. The need in the city is critical and we need to be here.”

This year they are changing it up with the walk hosted at E-Free Church on Highway 4. Donning new ‘Coldest Night of the Year’ toques, participants will walk a two, five or ten-kilometre route on a flat, well-lit trail, and will warm up with toasty drinks at a rest stop along the way.

“The money is important, don’t get me wrong, we can’t do what we do if we’re not funded. That’s how we are able to serve this community, but having people acknowledge the struggles of others is important. If you’re out in your big woolly coat with mitts and a hat on shovelling and come in complaining about the cold, but then realize that there are people who don’t have even those things dealing with it to, that’s what this is about.”

Anyone interested in walking or getting involved can do so here.

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