Paul Mason is hoping to hundreds of people wearing bright blue toques walking through downtown Campbell River this Saturday evening.
Why? Because it’s the third annual Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser, and the more people who take part in the event, the more people who are aware of some of the challenges faced by homeless people in our community.
This 5K or 10K fun walk/run takes place Saturday, Feb. 20 between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and raises money for Campbell River Family Services Society, a non-profit, charitable organization that offers a wide range of programs and services, including support, counselling, education, prevention and crisis intervention.
“We would really like to see people come out,” said Mason, the event organizer. “It is a fun event. The funds raised are important, but the most important thing is it’s a community family event and it’s to raise awareness in our community for our homeless. There are so many different issues. Number one is lack of affordable housing and we need our sobering assessment centre. It’s about the community coming together and it’s a real enjoyable evening.”
The event is family-friendly, and people are invited to bring their kids. The band Inclusion, which is made up of clients from Community Living B.C., will be performing again this year. Following the walk, there will be hot chilli, as well as coffee supplied by Starbucks.
“I would love to see 150 to 200 people out walking the streets with their toques on,” said Mason. “What really has been fantastic the last two years has been it’s been such an enjoyable event. The fundraising is just part of it. It’s been a really happy event.”
The Coldest Night of the Year is a Canada-wide fundraiser for the “hungry, homeless and hurting” that is hosted by non-profit community groups on the same day in more than 100 locations across the country.
“It’s an event that really put Campbell River on the map – to be part of an event that is Canada-wide, from one coast to another, is a great thing for Campbell River,” said Mason.
On Saturday (Feb. 20), registration opens at 4 p.m. at the Campbell River Community Centre at 401 11th Ave., and the walk begins and ends at the Community Centre. All walkers must check in and sign a waiver form before participating.
Walkers can register online as an individual or join an existing team or create their own team, or they can register in-person at the Community Centre.
It costs $25 to register, and adults who raise $150 or youth (aged 10 to 17) who raise $75 do not have to pay the registration fee.
The opening ceremonies will be at 5 p.m., and the walk will begin at 5:15 p.m.
Registration closes at 6 p.m., and the route closes at 8 p.m.
Between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., a warm chilli meal will be served to all walkers and volunteers at the Community Centre.
Mason says volunteers are still needed for the event, and anyone interested in volunteering can register online for that as well. People are needed to help with road marshalling, greeting, directing participants to the registration desk, helping with the food and just being there to help with anything else that’s needed.
“It’s very, very simple to register as a walker or to register as a volunteer,” he said.
Mason says that right now, they still need the ingredients for the chilli, and if there are any supermarkets that are willing to donate ingredients, they would be very grateful.
To learn more about the Coldest Night of the Year or to register online, visit coldestnightoftheyear.org
For more information or to offer sponsorship or donations, contact Paul or Kelly at Campbell River Family Services at 250-287-2421.