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Getting out for a walk, and raising money for WCS, on a cold February night

Leigh-Quinn is organizing WCS’ Coldest Night of the Year event, set for Feb 22 in Elmira [Steve Kannon]

It may be billed as the Coldest Night of the Year, but February 22 will offer up plenty of warm feelings, say organizers of an event hosted by Woolwich Community Services (WCS).

The Elmira outing that will see hundreds of people hit the pavement as part of a nation-wide fundraiser in support of the “homeless, hungry and hurting.”

Last year was WCS’ first go, and the group raised $83,000. This time around, the goal is $90,000 to $100,000, said community engagement coordinator Leigh-Anne Quinn.

“One of our goals is to make this one of the biggest winter events in Woolwich, fundraising-wise,” she said. “The proceeds are allowing us to run more food bank programs. For instance, we have our bread program … and we’ve now just started the fresh fruit Fridays, where people can come on Fridays and get fresh food items, with an emphasis on fruits and veggies.

Funds raised will also support WCS programs such as family violence prevention and affordable housing.

“We are starting to take a look at housing instability, with a focus on low-income earners,” Quinn explained.

Along with raising money for the cause, the event is also great for community-building, added WCS executive director Kelly Christie.

Participants not only walk the 2-, 5- and 10-kilometre routes together, but also sit down to a meal afterwards, she said.

“It’s a great way to bring the community together.

“We’re looking forward to it being an annual event,” said Christie. “We want to make this the biggest winter event for the Woolwich community.”

WCS is looking for both walkers, who can register individually or sign up a team, and for those to help with the event itself.

“We are still looking for volunteers, specifically route marshals,” said Quinn. “Those are the people that are out along the walk, cheering people along and making sure they go on the right path.

“If people are interested in volunteering, we would love that. They can register by visiting the Coldest Night of the Year website and selecting the Elmira location.”

Across the country, there are already some 145 locations registered to participate this year, with a goal of $6 million.

“The Coldest Night of the Year is a national event. There’s over 100 cities across Canada that participate, so there’s a real synergy in that as well,” said Quinn of the Elmira walk’s link to the whole. “People in this community are walking for Woolwich Community Services, but there are people in communities all over Canada that are walking for different causes.”

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