Deltassist’s first Coldest Night of the Year event beat every goal it set, and is now looking towards the future.
“I don’t think it could have gone better for our first time,” said Lorraine Yates, manager of operations and projects at Deltassist Family and Community Services.
Earlier in the month, Yates said Deltassist was hoping to reach $20,000 in donations and see possibly 100 walkers at the event on Saturday, Feb. 24.
In total, Delta’s first Coldest Night of the Year walk raised nearly $22,000, and welcomed more than 100 walkers.
“I’m just amazed at the turnout,” Yates said.
Fourteen different teams registered for the walk, including Yates’ group of horsewomen from Ridgeview Stables (who called themselves the “Ridgeview Riders”) and even some walkers from Ladner (part of the “Cedar Park” team).
Each team participated for slightly different reasons.
The Ridgeview Riders came because of Yates’ influence.
“She just mentioned it to us, and we all thought it sounded like a good idea and a nice way to do a bit of fundraising and have a bit of fun,” said Terre O’Brennan, a member of the team.
“We wanted to bring our horses, but Lorraine said we couldn’t,” fellow member Bonny MacRae added.
For Lee Kosa, who had come from Ladner to join the walk, the Coldest Night of the Year was a chance to show solidarity with those who had no choice but to be on the street.
“Having lived in Vancouver and working at a church … I was in proximity to people who were literally coming out of the cold,” Kosa said. “I find now that I live in South Delta, I don’t come into contact with as many people, so I need to engage in practices that put me next to, or at least put my mind next to, people who have barriers to stable living conditions.”
Across Canada, more than 3,000 teams participated in the Coldest Night of the Year — a country-wide event that raises funds for local charities.
Although a portion of the money raised at the walk goes back to the organizers to cover administrative fees, the majority goes to local charities to support their endeavours. For Deltassist, that means nearly $20,000 for its emergency food hamper programs, a possible new community garden and horticultural therapy program, and support for seniors living at home.
“This is a part of Canadian pride,” Julie Chadwick, executive director of Deltassist, said about the Coldest Night of the Year campaign.
“Canadians are known for their quiet but deep pride. I was thinking back, actually today, to the Vancouver Olympics, and it was so amazing, that feeling. And I feel the same way about this. It’s not the in-your-face pride, it’s a joyous pride.”
With the first Coldest Night of the Year a success, Deltassist is already planning for future walks.
“We’re starting tomorrow,” Chadwick said, laughing. “So be ready, we’re going to call on you, and we’ll be so excited to have you all back.
“We’re going to strive to be even bigger and better next year.”