Participants ready to brave ‘Coldest Night of the Year’ for local support services

The Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) is marked annually across Canada, and its unique logo, seen here on a CNOY Toque, has become known across the country. Photo by CNOY.

The Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) is an annual event where thousands of people across Canada participate in a fundraising walk to support their local charity organizations that provide social services for people experiencing precarious or vulnerable situations, such as homelessness and hunger. 

Locally, the approximately five-kilometre walk will take place on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022 in Kingston’s west end, between the Kingston Gospel Temple (2295 Princess St.) and the Cataraqui Centre mall (located at the corner of Princess Street and Gardiners Road). The route will involve participants walking from the church to the mall and back. The walk will begin at approximately 5 p.m. on February 26, and conclude around 7 p.m. Participants will receive warm beverages at the midway point from Starbucks Cataraqui Centre, and chili upon return to the church. Funds are raised by those participating in the event collecting pledges for towards the cause.

Those wanting to participate can go to the CNOY’s website to register to take part in the walk. In Kingston, West End Kingston, hosted by Lionhearts, is an in-person event aiming to raise $100,000. That group has over 130 walkers in 24 teams, and has raised approximately $28,000 so far. Another CNOY event in Kingston is Kingston Downtown, a virtual fundraiser hosted by Nightlight Kingston where 12 groups and 32 walkers have raised over $11,973 of their $25,000 goal so far.  

Within the area, another walk is organized in Napanee. Hosted by Morningstar Relief Mission Inc., 38 teams and 142 walkers have raised $37,295 of their $60,000 goal so far. This will be Morningstar’s fourth annual CNOY event. 

“With the support and enthusiasm of our amazing supporters, it has quickly turned into our signature fundraising event of the year,” said Lynda Carney, CNOY Coordinator in Napanee. 

Morningstar is a volunteer-based charity in Napanee providing routine access to healthy meals and many other practical services designed to help vulnerable populations in the community reach their full potential. Funds raised through CNOY will go to meet these needs. 

“The already prevalent circumstances of poverty, homelessness, food insecurity and more, have only been compounded by the effects of COVID-19. There continues to be much work for us to do to support our neighbours, friends and families. Reaching our goal will help keep us out there in the community, doing our work! We are thankful to all who work so hard to make CNOY a success!” added Carney.

There are still nine days remaining for teams to reach their fundraising goals. Fundraising walkers who raise $150+ or $75+ and those under 18 will receive a CNOY toque as a thank-you on the event day. Participants wishing to sign up for the fundraiser can do so through CNOY’s website by registering online to set up their Fundhub page, set a goal, add photos and send thank you emails to donors. The registration is completely free to join. 

The significance behind walking outside on the “coldest night of the year” is for participants to realize just some the challenges of those experiencing homelessness during winter. 

“This is an opportunity to bring awareness of folks in our community that struggle with homelessness and all that comes with it,” said Travis Blackmore, Founder and Executive Director of Lionhearts Inc. 

Lionhearts Inc. is hosting one of this year’s CNOY events in Kingston. The goal set by Lionhearts for this year is $100,000. So far, 24 teams and a total of 127 walkers have raised $27,609, or 27 per cent of the total goal.

“It’s an opportunity to promote that [awareness] together in a tangible way by and raise financial support for the Lionhearts programs that, on a daily basis, are confronted with these challenges,” added Blackmore. 

Funds raised for Lionhearts will go toward operations of the Warming Centre that Lionhearts has opened earlier this year in partnership with the Kingston Street Mission, Home Base Housing, The United Way of KFL&A, and the City of Kingston. 

All scheduling details and walking route information is available on CNOY’s website

Since it began in 2011, CNOY has raised over $43,500,000 in 149 communities across Canada. On a national level, 4,810 teams of 22,803 walkers in 167 locations in Canada will be taking part in CNOY on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.

“Together with thousands of Canadians across the country, we’re walking and fundraising to support and serve people and families experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger in our community,” local team ‘United We Walk!’ said on their fundraising page. 

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