Most people don’t jump at the chance to be outside on the coldest day of the year but some Surrey charities are hoping some locals will, for the right cause.
On Saturday, Feb. 25 people will hit the streets across Canada for the annual Coldest Night of the Year (CNOTY) event, billed as a “super-fun, family-friendly fundraiser that raises money for the hungry, homeless, and hurting across Canada” that aims to have participants “feel a hint of the challenges faced by those who live on the streets, particularly in the winter.”
It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year for Surrey Urban Mission Society (SUMS) said Barbara Davison, a director for the organization and event co-ordinator for the SUMS walk this year.
“Because we’re a small organization, we’ve gone with the CNOTY because they offer to take care of all the administration for an event of this size,” she explained.
“We’re piggy backing off of them as a lot of other small charities are across Canada.”
Last year, SUMS’ goal was $26,000 and they beat that. This year, the hope is to raise $40,000, said Davison. As of Feb. 14, more than $12,000 had been raised through 11 teams and 43 walkers.
“Last year was pretty significant considering we didn’t have a lot of walkers. I think (CNOTY) said we had one of the highest ratios, the highest dollar ratio per walker,” she added.
But this year, to hit the higher goal, they’re going to need “some bigger support.”
Davison, along with other SUMS volunteers, are busy finding people to take part.
“Hopefully we’ll get the City of Surrey to either do a team,” she said. “Then I have one lady who goes around to the different Lutheran churches every Sunday and sets up a little table with a friend and canvasses donations that way, I canvas at my church, so different little groups of people are doing this work for us.
“We’re not at this point getting a lot of support from the community,” Davison added, “but I’m hoping that will grow.”
She encouraged locals to come out, and said it’s a “really fun event.”
“There’s enough of us out there that it’s fun and we’ve got people along the route to wave people along and make sure they’re staying on the course, and (last year) we had someone along the way with bags of candy. We had some draw prizes and soup available,” said Davison. “It’s a community thing and people join in and just enjoy themselves and of course we’re benefiting from whatever funds that we’re able to raise.”
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The mission’s executive director Michael Musgrove said the fundraiser “helps us continue to be a bridge to hope for our guests.”
“This has been a tough winter for the people who are homeless,” he added.
“Our shelter is full every night and we have had a record number of emergency weather response days. As I look out of my office into the mission, I see that our guests are lined up from the kitchen to the front door for breakfast.
“Coldest Night event is a chance for the community to show love and support at a time that it is needed,” said Musgrove.
To donate to SUMS, register, or for more information, visit https://canada.cnoy.org/location/surrey.
In all events, participants can choose to walk a two, five or 10-kilometre route.
Since 2011, the Coldest Night of the Year events have raised over $12 million.