Woolwich Community Services’ Leigh-Anne Quinn and Tina Reed will be out walking for the Coldest Night of Year event on Saturday.. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

There are seldom clear and vivid examples of homelessness and hardship out in the country as there are in the cities, while in communities as tight-knit and giving as Woolwich, it can seem hard to imagine anyone going hungry and hurting. But the same challenges that affect those in the larger cities are prevalent in the rural communities as well.

Lending their support to those in need, residents of the Township of Woolwich will be out walking in numbers this Saturday for the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser. Held in over 100 communities across the country, the walk will raise money for those most vulnerable to those cold, Canadian nights.

“The Coldest Night of the Year walk is a family-friendly winter fundraising walk. In this location it will support Woolwich Community Services (WCS), more specifically those who are homeless, hungry or hurting,” said Leigh-Anne Quinn, community resource coordinator for WCS.

“The proceeds in Elmira are going to go to Woolwich Community Services. So it will be directed to various programs,” explained Quinn. “So one of them will be our food bank; another one would be our family violence prevention program; another one would be towards our individual support program, which helps provide individual support on a one-on-one basis, based on a current circumstance a person may be having in their life.”

The walk kicks off this weekend at Woodside Bible Fellowship, and will lead participants on a winter walk through Elmira. Anyone may participate in the event, with registration for the Coldest Night beginning at the church at 4 p.m. followed by the opening ceremonies at 5, and the start of the walk at 5:15 p.m.

To date, 23 teams featuring 187 walkers have pledged to raise funds for the event, including the Woodside Walkers, Woolwich Roaring Lions and the minor peewee AE Woolwich Wildcats team, and by Tuesday of this week have already brought in over $60,000 – almost double the WCS’s goal of $35,000.

“It’s the boys hockey team, so we just thought it would be a great thing for them to do, a way to give back to the community,” said Kirby Gingrich, coach for the minor peewee AE team. “I’ve done the walk a couple of times before with my family in Kitchener, and so we signed the team up.

“We have a game that day, so they’re going to be coming literally straight from a game to that event,” he noted, adding they’ll be sure to sport their jerseys over their winter coats.

Three routes are available for walkers all starting and ending at the church. A two-kilometre route will take walkers on short trek up Barnswallow Drive and along First Street before returning to Woodside. The 5k walk will follow a circuit along First Street, down Arthur Street South, and back along Whippoorwill Drive to the church. A second round of the route will see walkers complete a 10k option.

Along all routes, volunteers will be on hand to guide walkers on the correct path back to the Woodside Bible Fellowship, where there will be food and drink donated by local businesses.

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