The third annual Coldest Night of the Year Walk, to address homelessness in the Comox Valley, takes place Feb. 23. Photo submitted.

Brave the cold to help end homelessness

The Coldest Night of the Year is back, raising money for the Comox Valley Transition Society and Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society

Though the walk is only one night, for some, staying out in the cold is often their reality.

The annual Coldest Night of the Year walk is returning to the Comox Valley on Feb. 23 to raise money for both and Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society and the Comox Valley Transition Society.

A nationwide initiative, this is the fourth year the walk has been held in the Comox Valley.

“It’s really meant to be focused on homelessness and raising awareness and drawing attention to the issue of homelessness and poverty in the Comox Valley,” said Michele Vanderwoude, director of resource development with the CVTS. “The funds go directly to helping to support those women, men and children who are experiencing homelessness and poverty in the Comox Valley.”

According to the 2018 Vital Signs report, 117 individuals experienced homelessness in 2018, with 68 experiencing absolute homelessness and 49 experiencing hidden homelessness.

The two organizations offer transitional housing for individuals, as well as services such as counseling and social programs to help them get back on their feet.

Last year, the Coldest Night of the Year walk raised over $65,000 and this year, the two organizations have set a $75,000 goal. Vanderwoude says they are already well on their way to reaching it.

With 45 teams, 154 walkers and 29 volunteers already signed up and over $22,000 raised, the Comox Valley event is sitting in fourth place in the province for the most money raised so far.

These heightened numbers are encouraging as Dawn to Dawn and the CVTS both rely on this fundraiser for much-needed support. Speaking for the CVTS, Vanderwoud says the need is heightened this year because of the devastating fire at Too Good To Be Threw.

RELATED: Virtually nothing’ is salvageable after Too Good To Be Threw fire

“With the fire, we’re still kind of reeling from the blow that has left approximately a $75,000 funding shortfall between the day of the fire and the end of March,” she said. “There’s no question that the fire has brought a lot of attention to CVTS and the community has been incredibly supportive in so many awesome ways including joining the CNOY walk.”

The Coldest Night of the Year walk will be a two, five or 10 kilometre walk beginning and ending at St. George’s Church on 6th Street in Courtenay. Registration begins at 4 p.m. with the walk getting started at 5:15 p.m. Warm food and beverages will be provided for walkers and volunteers courtesy of Plates Eatery & Catering Co., True Grains, Crowne Isle and McDonald’s.

“[The walk is] a great way to rally the community together and walk together in support of something that’s really important,” said Vanderwoude.

“In the Comox Valley, poverty exists here in our world and homelessness exists here and it’s not going away. We need all the support we can get to help those people who are struggling.”

Walkers and volunteers can register on the day of the event or online at cnoy.org/location/comoxvalley. FMI: contact Alisa at 250-897-0511.

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