The nights are cold, but the donations are warm for the Coldest Night of the Year (CNoY).
On Feb. 25, participants will walk and raise money for CNoY, which is a fundraiser for NeighbourLink, a non-profit organization that helps those in need in Chatham-Kent.
This year will mark the seventh such event in Chatham, Al Baker, managing director of NeighbourLink and main organizer of CNoY said, this year’s goal is $60,000, and he’s hopeful to see it met and exceeded in much the same manner as last year.
In 2022, the event raised about $80,000, important dollars to keep NeighbourLink running.
“This is our major fundraiser for the year. It really helps with our general operating expenses, paying the rent, keeping the lights on, etc,” Baker said.
He added there are various government grants available, but for specific programs.
“In my view, $60,000 is a success,” he said of the target. “But if we get $80,000, great! It will go to good use.”
Baker said the event has grown since its inception, went virtual during the pandemic, but is back to normal this year.
In 2022, people walked in person again, but this year will see a return to a warm chili supper for all participants after the event.
The walk begins and ends at the former St. Agnes School in Chatham on Croydon Street, which is the future home for the new Indwell supportive housing project.
“People will arrive around 4 p.m. and they will go through a lineup to receive their toque. There will be coffee, tea and hot chocolate,” Baker explained. “Then we’ll have an opening ceremony. People will go and to the walk – it’s 5K – and that should take about an hour. Afterwards there will be the hot chili supper.”
The socializing is always an important part of the event. Last year, Baker said there was no post-walk meal, but that didn’t stop people from gathering outside the Indwell site and chat.
“Last year, it was very cold and we couldn’t go inside, but people still hung around,” Baker said.
Signup for the event can be done right up until about noon on the day of the walk.
Anyone with questions can visit the Chatham-Kent location page at cnoy.org. Baker said you can also sign up on the website as a participant or to volunteer.
NeighbourLink represents a network of churches in Chatham-Kent partnered together to provide practical help to those in need by linking them to supportive volunteers or existing services.
Area churches have been operating together through NeighbourLink since 2005. Numerous volunteers donate thousands of hours each year to meet the needs of many, including the most vulnerable in our communities.