Calgarians walk to help the homeless in tough economic times.
The Coldest Night of the Year walk, which took place in Eau Claire on February 20, aims to raise funds and awareness by showing participants what it’s like to walk in the cold as approximately 3,555 homeless Calgarians do each night.
This was Carol Eastman’s first time participating in the event but it was certainly not her first time walking in the cold.
“I was homeless in 2012,” said Eastman. “You’re out there and you don’t know where you’re going to be the next night.”
Although the walk signifies the difficult experience of being homeless, Eastman was excited to participate and head out on the streets to make a positive difference.
“This event is opening people’s eyes. And it needs to, because there’s not enough people out there that realize,” said Eastman. “All the people that came, and all the money that was raised, they all came together for one cause. For a good cause.”
The walk took place in 90 cities across Canada on the same night, February 20, which was chosen because it has traditionally been known as the coldest night of the year. Luckily for the 587 Calgarians who participated, the temperature stayed around -2 C.
The Calgary event exceeded its fundraising goal, bringing in $128,000 for Acadia Place, Feed the Hungry, and the Mustard Seed, which are all local charities dedicated to providing food, shelter, and support for thousands of people in need.
Despite the tough economic times, Calgarians raised the third highest amount of money compared to other Canadian cities, with Toronto bringing in over $175,000 and Kitchener/Waterloo bringing in over $198,000.
Samantha Jones, the Calgary location director for this event, explains the direct impact of the funds raised from this walk.
“Acadia Place is low-income housing that’s owned by the Calgary Homeless Foundation, and funds from Coldest Night will go to help pay down the mortgage on the property and this will help keep the rents affordable. Feed the Hungry will also receive proceeds that will go towards their general operations, and we feed about 500 homeless people every Sunday night.”
This year, the event has added a third beneficiary to receive funds and help the homeless.
“You’re out there, and you don’t know where you’re going to be the next night.” – Carol Eastman
“The Mustard Seed is also going to be taking their proceeds and putting it into their support programs that will help people that use their shelter and also use their residence at the 1010 Centre,” said Jones.
At the end of this year's walk, Eastman, who personally raised $870, was greeted excitedly by her grandchildren who congratulated her with flowers as they headed inside to get warm and celebrate.
Video produced by Emily Holloway
Thumbnail courtesy of Emily Holloway
Photo Gallery: Coldest Night of the Year
The charity walk raised $3.8 million for 92 local and national charities across Canada to feed, house, and provide support for homeless people.
17,678 participants walked for the cause this year in 90 cities across the country and over 600 of those were in Calgary.
Carol Eastman participated in her first walk this year and was accompanied by some family members to cheer her on.
Compared to other cities, Calgary sits in first place at the top of the national scoreboard based on the number of teams, second place based on the number of walkers, and third place based on the amount of money raised.
Samantha Jones is the associate director of charities and development at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary and has been involved with the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser since the first Calgary event in 2014.
Samantha Jones is the associate director of charities and development at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary and has been involved with the Coldest Night of the Year since the first Calgary event in 2014.
- By Emily Holloway and Andrea Fulton