COLD LAKE - The Cold Lake Food Bank is gearing up for a first-time event that aims to raise awareness about food insecurity and homelessness, while encouraging community members to come together and support the local food bank.
The “Coldest Night of the Year” fundraiser is scheduled for Feb. 24 in Cold Lake.
Nic Caron-Lavoie, Cold Lake Food Bank executive director, explains why the timing of the event is especially important.
“February and March seem to be our slowest time of the year for donations and food coming in, but we are just as busy as always, so we were kind of looking at hosting an event that would be in line with that time of the year.”
The Coldest Night of the Year event is designed to allow participants to experience a winter walk, while enduring cold and dark conditions, symbolizing the struggles that people facing food insecurity and homelessness endure daily.
"It's not in any way extreme... [but] it gets people at least thinking about it. They may not be 100 per cent comfortable, it might be a bit cool, and it might not be the most comfortable event they have done. But it's good to get people thinking, and it's kind of the point of the event as well as to raise some funds for the food bank,” says Caron-Lavoie.
Similar ‘Coldest Night of the Year’ events will be held at over 200 locations across Canada and the U.S. - all designed to be a symbolic way of acknowledging the hardships experienced by those dealing with food insecurity and homelessness.
"I think it's the idea that February is the coldest month - not that there's going to be a guarantee that it’s going to be the coldest night of the year,” acknowledges Caron-Lavoie.
Participation in the walk is free, but individuals are encouraged to register and fundraise independently. Youth who raise $75 and adults who raise $150 will receive a branded toque from the event. There will also be door prizes to be won once the event wraps up.
The Cold Lake Food Bank has set an ambitious fundraising goal of $20,000.
So far, the community's positive response has been good, with several people already registered to take part. The walk will start at the Cold Lake Food Bank on Millennium Trail, head to Lake City GM, and then return to the food bank. A shorter path is also available for those who prefer.
Participants will be treated to a hot meal upon their return.
The food bank is always accepting food donations, although the upcoming event is focused on collecting monetary donations specifically.
“We're really looking for some community support and excited to see how it goes.”
To join the event, individuals can register online at CNOY.org