Hundreds of people are gearing up to walk on the Coldest Night of the Year in Cloverdale on Feb. 23, and organizers are hoping you’ll join them.
The Coldest Night of the Year event is a national fundraising walk for homelessness, held in communities across the country. Since 2011, the fundraiser has raised more than $21 million for local charities that help people who struggling with poverty.
In the last five years, Cloverdale’s walk, which supports the Cloverdale Community Kitchen, has raised more than $250,000 alone.
The idea behind the fundraiser is that, “by walking together in the chill of the night, participants will better understand the experience of being on the streets during a cold Canadian winter,” according to a press release. And all the while, Cloverdale walkers will be raising money to help the work of the kitchen, which feeds hundreds of people in its community.
Last year, the much-needed funds were used to buy a new stove and upgrade the kitchen’s dishwasher — which has “really helped,” according to Matthew Campbell, kitchen director. “We definitely want to thank the community for their support.”
This year’s fundraising goal is the biggest yet, at $75,000, and it will go straight into the day-to-day operation of the kitchen.
“We’re serving more people than we’ve served in the past, [and] our expenses for our regular programming have increased,” explained Campbell. “We really need [the annual fundraiser] to keep those meals coming, week after week, day after day.”
The Cloverdale Community Kitchen runs out of the Pacific Community Church, which also supports Cloverdale’s only extreme weather shelter. The shelter has expanded the number of beds, and its operating hours, for this winter season, and attendance at the kitchen’s three weekly meals has been steadily increasing. In the past year, Campbell estimates that attendance has increased by 20 per cent.
The increased turnout may be due to more people in the community being aware of what it is that the kitchen does.
“I think what it is, is they feel its not just a soup kitchen. That’s a really important piece that we have. At our meals it really is a place where people can feel welcomed,” said Campbell.
The Cloverdale Community Kitchen “started out with the idea of serving people on the street, and we’re still doing that,” said Campbell. “But there’s a big portion of poverty [among] people that are housed in Cloverdale.”
Whether a client is a single parent, a family who is struggling to make ends meet, or a senior whose pension isn’t stretching quite as far as it used to, the volunteers at the kitchen “see them, serve them, and help them stay housed and supported,” he said.
| The five-kilometre route for Cloverdale’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser. For more details, including a map of the two-kilometre route, visit cnoy.org/location/surreycloverdale.
Google / cnoy.org
The Coldest Night of the Year walk will support and fund that work.
This year, participants will be walking either a two or five-kilometre route through downtown Cloverdale, starting and ending at the Cloverdale Community Kitchen, located at 5337 180 Street.
The route will include business along 176 Street and 176A Street, where walkers can expect friendly faces at rest stops. Crossridge Church will host their popular popcorn stand at the Clova, and the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association and Rustic Rooster have partnered to provide cookies. Local businesses have also donated prizes, which will be given out to winners of a photo challenge during the walk.
The event takes place Saturday, Feb. 23. Registration begins at 4 p.m., and the opening ceremonies kick off at 5 p.m.
There’s lots of parking, says event director Courtney van den Boogaard, but walkers should come out early to give themselves time to get signed in, grab a coffee, check out the photo booth, and connect with friends and neighbours.
Walkers can choose to sign up for $25, or sign up to fundraise. Last year, the top fundraiser was Guy Brooks, who brought in $1,800, and the top team effort, led by Deb Vanden Boogaard, was Team Happy Feet’s $6,461 feat.
To register, donate, or learn about sponsorship, visit cnoy.org/location/surreycloverdale. For more information, contact Courtney van den Boogaard at 605-574-4001 ext. 107, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.