Participants walk in the 2018 Coldest Night of the Year at the Alberni Athletic Hall. FACEBOOK PHOTO

Coldest Night of the Year event brings attention to plight of the homeless

Port Alberni teams prepare to walk one of three routes and raise funds too

Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society (ACAWS) is putting out an appeal for Alberni Valley residents to help the homeless and hurting this winter by participating in the Coldest Night of the Year.

Coldest Night of the Year is an annual family-friendly walk-a-thon that takes place in more than 100 communities across Canada. The walk in Port Alberni is organized by ACAWS and raises funds for the organization’s transition house and drop-in centre. Coldest Night is a team event, with families, friends and coworkers collecting pledges together.

If you don’t have a team, that’s no problem—you can join one of the 11 teams already signed up in Port Alberni and start collecting pledges with them.

“It is that whole spirit of participation and working together,” said ACAWS executive director Ellen Frood. “Anybody is welcome to join our team.”

ACAWS is required to fundraise each year to help balance the organization’s budget, and Coldest Night of the Year is one of the largest fundraisers. Over the past two years, ACAWS has raised $50,000 in total. This year, the goal is another $25,000, and with more than $13,000 raised to date, ACAWS is more than halfway to its goal.

But although the walk has more sponsors than previous years to help out on the financial side, registration is down.

“This is a big appeal on our part to get people interested,” said Frood. “We’re bringing the hungry and the hurting out of the cold.”

ACAWS has added to the event this year, with entertainment from Alberni Teens Can Rock and a local dance group, as well as a silent auction. Walkers and volunteers will also receive a fresh, warm meal courtesy of the Red Hot Chili Preppers at the end of the night.

“We feel it’s a great way to bring awareness to homelessness,” said Frood. “But also it’s a great, fun family event.”

Participants can choose between a 2 km, 5 km, and 10 km walk. Rest stops will be available on all routes, along with signage, route marshalls and rest stop attendants.

But participants don’t have to walk if they don’t want to.

“There are many people who can’t walk, but they can certainly help,” said Frood. “They can sign up as a volunteer and raise money. Every small amount adds up and makes a difference.”

Participants can register online at The walk will take place on Saturday, Feb. 23 starting at the Alberni Athletic Hall at 5:15 p.m. with registration opening at 4 p.m. Everyone who donates to Coldest Night of the Year will receive a charitable tax receipt. For more information, call Carol at 250-724-7111 ext. 221.

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