Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada

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Get ready to brave the cold

We may have reached the winter solstice and the shortest day, but the Coldest Night of the Year is still a couple of months away – at least where the fundraising event is concerned.

The Elmira outing planned for Feb. 20, 2021 will see participants hit the pavement as part of a nation-wide fundraiser in support of the homeless, hungry and hurting. Some of those taking part will do so virtually, as this has been “a year like no other.”

Leigh-Anne Quinn of Woolwich Community Services is organizing the local chapter of CNOY, noting fundraising efforts started earlier this month. Fourteen walkers and two teams have signed on since the website (cnoy.org) went live.

“We have the Woolwich community walkers team signed up – that’s really for staff, volunteers, and anyone who maybe isn’t going to form a team that wants to join a team. And we also have another group that has signed up that I think has 10 walkers – they’re part of St. Matthews church, which is located in Conestogo,” said Quinn, adding that registration typically picks up closer to the day.

How registration will go given the pandemic is anyone’s guess, she noted.

“I really don’t think we can gauge participation at this point. I think with COVID you need to take things one month, one week, one day at a time.”

Leigh-Anne Quinn is spearheading the local Coldest Night of the Year fundraising initiative for Woolwich Community Services.

In that vein, WCS has a fundraising goal of $50,000 despite last year’s event having brought in twice that amount. Pledges to date amount to about $15,000.

As with other events that have decided to continue during the pandemic, there will be some notable changes. To start, the registration fee has been dropped for the event. There are also two options for participating this year, in-person or virtually over a two- or five-kilometre stretch.

“I think that’s a nice bonus that’s being offered this year just to ensure a faster, smoother, socially distanced, touch-less outdoor experience. We also at this point are planning on having everything outdoors. So, walkers will come in, they’ll actually register outside, go for their walk, come back, and then head home. So, we won’t be able to have the same gathering before and afterwards,” said Quinn of the changes, including dropping the usual post-event dinner.

Actual details could change over the next couple of months as the pandemic situation evolves.

With the removal of registration fees, the iconic Coldest Night of the Year toques will be awarded to youths that raise $75 and adults that raise $150.

Quinn encourages those interested in checking out the event to visit the website and think about taking part in this year’s walk.

“If people are looking for a family friendly winter fundraising walk that supports the homeless, hungry and hurting in our area, this is a great way to do so. And also, there’s an option for people to do it virtually. So, they can, avoid having to see others and still do it with their family unit. I think that’s really great. Because, we’ve experienced a lot of event cancellations and people not being able to see each other, other than their household. So, this actually provides an activity that a household can do together.”

A national event launched in 2011, the Coldest Night of the Year has raised more than $33.5 million in 144 communities across Canada since that time.

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