COCHRANE— Looking to spread warmth on the Coldest Night of the Year, the Helping Hands Society of Cochrane & Area will be participating in a fundraiser to help the hurt, hungry and homeless.
On Feb. 20 Helping Hands will be hosting its inaugural Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser. Participants will walk two or five kilometres virtually in COVID-safe teams, said Helping Hands Society of Cochrane & Area executive director Chairra Nicolle.
Each step during the walk will raise money and awareness for Cochrane's most vulnerable residents.
“A lot of our clients fall into that category of hurt, hungry or homeless,” Nicolle said. “It’s really nice to have a community event to kind of bring our community together and have a positive spin on things— This is an opportunity to just have some fun in the community and come together, even if we’re not together [physically].”
The goal of this year's fundraiser is to raise $27,500 by Feb. 20.
Coldest Night of the Year is encouraging walkers to create teams of about five to ten people. Individuals can register under the team names and connect with their own networks to fundraise.
Nicolle hopes teams will be able to walk together outside, but participants can also fundraise from the comfort and safety of their homes.
“You don’t even have to be out walking. You can be in your home and walk two kilometres on your stairs or in the living room," she said.
Coldest Night of the Year is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and more than 150 organizations across Canada will be participating in the event.
It is exciting to see the event already having success, Nicolle said, explaining 19 teams have already registered for the event in Cochrane along with 61 walkers.
“Nineteen teams are actually four more than we were hoping for, so we’re hoping to double what our goal was,” she said. “I’m looking forward to having something fun that we can celebrate.”
Youth who raise more than $75 and adults who raise more than $150 during the fundraiser will receive a Coldest Night of the Year toque, she said, adding buttons, posters, masks and other fun prizes are also up for grabs during the event.
Helping Hands is a non-profit organization and relies on government funding and corporate donations, Nicolle said.
The future of funding for the organization is unclear going into 2021, she said, because of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to ripple down to the non-profit— This makes fundraising critical to ensure Helping Hands can continue growing the programs it is able to offer.
There are a number of diverse factors affecting vulnerable people that can affect those who call the community home, she said, and isolation during the pandemic has especially impacted individuals in the community.
“We see the need growing here in the community,” Nicolle said. “A lot of times we don’t see homelessness being an issue in Cochrane or people going hungry— But, it is a concern in the community.”
Visit cnoy.org/Cochrane for more information or to register for Coldest Night of the Year.