More than 100 walkers bundled up against the cold, wet snow on Saturday, Feb. 25 to walk in the annual Coldest Night of the Year event. The walk raised funds for the hurting, hungry and homeless in Port Alberni.
By the time the walk started shortly after 5 p.m., more than $42,000 had been raised. Donations were still flowing in before walkers returned from two-kilometre and five-kilometre routes around Port Alberni’s Uptown.
“It’s very exciting,” an emotional Ellen Frood said. “It will still keep on coming in for the end of (March).”
Frood is executive director for Sage Haven Society, which provides safe harbour and innovative services for women and families in the Alberni Valley. The society is located on Third Avenue, and sees first hand how lack of housing affects the city’s most vulnerable.
“I’m just amazed at the support from the community and the goodness of the people.” This year’s theme for the CNOY walk was “Gather for Goodness,” Frood said.
Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne attended the walk in Port Alberni, while Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns was in Parksville for a CNOY event on the east side of the federal riding. Other community leaders participating in the event included Elected Chief Councillor Brandy Lauder from Hupacasath First Nation, Elected Chief Councillor Wahmeesh (Ken Watts) from Tseshaht First Nation and City of Port Alberni Coun. Debbie Haggard, among others. Both the Rotary Club of Port Alberni and Arrowsmith Rotary had tents up at the event, the Salvation Army food truck was on hand and the Bread of Life provided food following the walk.
Twenty teams signed up, with some completing their walks prior to the official event.
This is the first walk in three years where teams were able to gather in one place and start the walk at the same time. The last public event was held in February 2020, right before social events were forced to cancel due to public health restrictions over the coronavirus pandemic. For the past two years team members were able to sign up and log their individual walks and fundraising totals. Some teams still did that this year, Frood said.
Slide and the Family Stone from the Alberni Curling Club raised $2,000 and walked in both Port Alberni and Tofino earlier in the week.
Donations raised will go toward Sage Haven Society’s transition house or 30-day emergency shelter for women leaving domestic abuse situations, as well as to the drop-in centre at the society’s building on Third Avenue. “Bringing people in out of the cold,” Frood said.
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