Contributed photo Volunteer walkers Roger and Mari Anne Hussen participated in the 2018 event.

Coldest Night an event for warm hearts

Sources’ White Rock event one of 130 walkathons across Canada on Feb. 23

Sources Community Resources is taking steps to prevent homelessness – and inviting the community along on the journey.

The organization’s contribution to the annual Coldest Night of the Year walkathon returns to White Rock’s waterfront at 3 p.m. on Feb. 23, one of some 130 events that evening in communities across Canada.

The walkathon – for which participants can choose a two-kilometre, a five-kilometre or a 10-kilometre version between Sources office (at 882 Maple St.) and Bayview Park on West Beach – is aimed at raising money for programs for the hungry, homeless and hurting, according to event planner Abby Gemino.

And she’s counting on the warm-heartedness of the community to pitch in and make this year’s event a resounding success.

For Sources’ sixth edition, she said, the plan is to raise $100,000 for the organization’s Homeless Prevention Services with the support of more than 35 teams and more than 300 walkers.

Gemino, with the help of White Rock Rotary’s Raj Rajogopal, is trying to encourage as many people as possible to register a walking team of eight to 10 co-workers, friends or family members to gather pledges for the walkathon.

“Last year we had close to 300 people participating,” Gemino said.

“It’s fun, challenging and meaningful. It gives participants a feel for what it’s like to be without shelter – if only for an hour or two – and it raises funds for essential services in our community. You get a real appreciation of having a roof over your head, warm clothing and food on the table.”

It’s wrong to suppose that the Semiahmoo Peninsula – typically characterized as an affluent community – is without people suffering homelessness, or close to it, Gemino said. The Sources Food Bank is heavily used throughout the year, providing a clear indication of the need.

And many of those who most require help are the Peninsula’s older residents, she added.

“Approximately 80 per cent of all White Rock/South Surrey applicants for rent bank loans are seniors,” she noted.

Even if the good feelings that come from volunteering to help others are more than enough of a motivator for being involved, there are added enticements for joining the walkathon, Gemino said.

Every walker who raises $75 (for youths 17 and under) or $150 (for adults) will receive one of Sources’ Coldest Night toques.

And there are many ‘family fun’ activities sponsored by community businesses along the walk route, Gemino points out. A quick snack and a warm drink will take the edge off the cold at the Bayview Park rest stop, while walkers are also rewarded with a warm light meal at the finish line.

“For years Vancity Credit Union has been providing hot chocolate, Sources hands out hotdogs and Save-On-Foods provides us with all the condiments and chips, while Homelife Bechmark hands out flashlights,” Gemino said.

“Our lead sponsor is Elkay Developments – they’ve raised a lot of money for us.”

Rajogopal said White Rock Rotary president Fred Wiggins is very interested in the club spreading the message and gathering more community involvement.

“We’re hoping other Rotary Clubs will match our participation,” he said. “We also had a very good meeting with Mayor Darryl Walker and the city will also be providing assistance with the event.”

“We’ve also secured participation of all the elementary schools – Jessie Lee, White Rock Elementary and Semiahmoo Trail, and we’re also going to see if we can get Semiahmoo Secondary, Elgin Park, Earl Marriott, Southridge and White Rock Christian Academy involved.”

For more information on how to participate or register a team, call Sources at 604-542-7599 or visit www.sourcesbc.ca

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