Nanaimo fundraiser to put people in the shoes of the homeless

By Spencer Sterritt
February 9, 2018 - 7:20pm Updated: February 11, 2018 - 8:00pm

Hundreds of supporters walked either two, five or 10 km. in the 2017 Coldest Night of the Year.submitted/Patricia Anderson

NANAIMO — Just because the snow has melted doesn't mean winter is over and a fundraiser hopes to remind Nanaimo residents just how cold it is.

Coldest Night of the Year, which started in Nanaimo in 2012, asks residents to fundraise and then walk either two, five or 10 kilometres on Feb. 24, which is on what's traditionally the coldest weekend across the country, to experience what it's like to be homeless.

Money raised will help the Island Crisis Care Society, who run many programs in the city and also the Samaritan House women's shelter.

Society executive director Violet Hayes said even though walkers are often bundled up, being on the streets at night is a sobering experience.

“We've had a couple years where we're actually walking in a blizzard. But even when it's not that bad, you still get that understanding of what it's like, especially if it's that biting rain.”

After the walk, everyone will return to John Barsby Secondary for a meal and to warm themselves up.

“It's supposed to mimic what it's like to be in a soup kitchen, so that you get a feeling of what it's like to be out in the cold and then come in and receive that warm bowl of chili.”

Last year, the Nanaimo walk fell slightly short of the $40,000 goal.

Hayes said they're undeterred and are aiming for the same amount again in 2018.

Last year, nearly $80,000 was raised for the Society from both a Nanaimo and Oceanside event and Hayes said it's a critical part of their fundraising and programming.

Already, Nanaimo has raised nearly $12,000.

Individuals and teams can register online here.


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On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit

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