A previous Coldest Night Walk-A-Thon

2 Ways to participate: walk in your own bubble, anytime anywhere or participate February 20 with staggered start times

This February, Northumberland County will join more than 140 communities across Canada in support of charities that help people who are hungry, homeless and hurting. Locally, all money raised from the Coldest Night of the Year Walk-A-Thon will stay in the community, funding Green Wood Coalition’s street-level support to individuals who struggle with poverty, homelessness, mental health and addiction. 

Event chair Phil Redford developed the COVID-19 safety plan for the event that, traditionally, draws over 200 people. This year’s “blended” event will give participants the option of walking in their own bubbles, anytime and anywhere during the month of February and posting photos and results on the event website or walking a designated route in Port Hope on Feb. 20 with staggered start times. 

Gone will be the pre and post-walk festivities, but the fundamental purpose of the walk remains untouched, he says: imagining what it would feel like not to have a warm home to return to at night. 

“There are still people who are living rough, there are still opioid overdoses, which are getting worse. The need has not gone away; it’s skyrocketed. We desperately need these funds because the pandemic has added another layer to everything. And the people responding to these needs are exhausted.” 

In the past few months, Green Wood has shifted its community programs to providing one-on-one support. Instead of being able to touch base with 100 people over a community dinner that offered social connection, nourishing food and access to a community health nurse, the charity’s small staff and a handful of volunteers now go door to door delivering over 100 meals a week, checking in on people to make sure they’re safe, share a laugh and filling needs. 

“There’s had to be a massive switch. I can’t begin to imagine what our staff is going through,” Redford says. 

Yet he’s overwhelmed by the response as he begins recruiting teams. 

Setting this year’s goal at $50,000, Redford admits he doesn’t know what to expect in a year like none other, but he’s going with his gut: “I have the feeling people are going to help.” 

Registration this year is free. To learn more or sign up visit: https://cnoy.org/location/porthope 

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