Port Alberni residents take part in the 2017 Coldest Night of the Year walk. KARLY BLATS PHOTO

Coldest Night in Port Alberni will be Feb. 24

Outdoor walk is a fundraiser for transition house, programs

The Coldest Night of the Year is approaching, and Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society (ACAWS) is hoping to double the success of last year’s event.

Last year, the inaugural Coldest Night fundraiser in Port Alberni drew close to 120 residents walking two, five or 10 kilometres outdoors and raised more than $25,000 for ACAWS, surpassing their goal of $20,000.

READ: Port Alberni Coldest Night fundraiser surpasses goal

This year, ACAWS executive director Ellen Frood is hoping for an even more successful event than last year, with a goal of $50,000.

According to Frood, ACAWS decided to take on the event on very short notice in 2017, giving the society only six weeks to organize. This year, Frood is challenging last year’s participants to take a look at what they raised last year and double it in time for the Feb. 24 event.

“All of [last year’s] money came from teams and team registration,” she said. “It’s pretty doable at the end of the day. All those small little amounts add up.”

The event is pledge-based: participants can sign up as part of a team to raise funds. The funds raised will stay in Port Alberni and go towards the ACAWS Transition House, which helps women and children who need shelter, as well as programs and services that support the Transition House.

“Even if you’re not able to be at the event, it doesn’t mean you’re not able to support it,” said Frood.

Although ACAWS does receive some government funding, Frood said fundraising events such as Coldest Night are critical when it comes to balancing the books each year, as well as enhancing the services ACAWS provides. This can mean more people who are able to provide outreach, or more referral services.

Port Alberni in particular has a high rate of poverty, which means a number of people in the community are homeless or living right on the edge.

“It’s very far-reaching,” said Frood.

The Coldest Night of the Year will take place on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. and will start and finish at the Alberni Athletic Hall (3737 Roger St.). Walkers can choose between a 2 km, 5 km or 10 km walk, with rest stops available along all routes. Between 6-8 p.m., a warm, light meal will be served to all walkers and volunteers.

“It’s a very fun family event that all ages can enjoy,” said Frood. “People are going to feel pride in participating. They’ll know that they’re making a difference.”

You can get involved in the Coldest Night by fundraising, registering to walk or volunteering. For more information, visit cnoy.org/location/portalberni or contact Carol Hanson at ACAWS (250-724-7111 ext. 221).

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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