Coldest Night of the Year CK surpasses fundraising goal by $19K

Coldest Night of the Year 2021 Chatham-Kent (Photo via NeighbourLink Chatham-Kent Facebook)

Chatham-Kent residents are showing just how generous they can be when it comes to donating to a good cause, despite the hurdles of the pandemic.

The 2021 Coldest Night of the Year walk was held on Saturday in Chatham-Kent and in communities across Canada with the goal to raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness. Although participants normally gather together for the walk, this year people were encouraged to do the usual 5 km route on their own because of the pandemic.

The local event is hosted by Neighbourlink Chatham-Kent. Two weeks prior to the walk, they had already raised $26,000 of the $30,000 goal. According to Network Coordinator Al Baker, the donation amounts shot up on walk day.

“It’s awesome. It really is,” he said. “The numbers are up nationwide, so there’s something really good going on here for the whole of charities across Canada.”

By Sunday, nearly $49,000 was raised. With many people feeling financial restraints over the past 12 months and because the event looked so different this year, Baker said he initially thought it might be reflected in the donations.

“I was surprised,” Baker said. “I thought that we would struggle to even reach our goal this year because of the pandemic. But, exactly the opposite happened. We reached our goal a week before official walk day…I’m thrilled.”

In addition to raising money, the annual walk is also held during the frigid winter months to bring attention to the challenges faces by individuals living on the street.

Baker said he thinks the effects of the pandemic and lockdowns may have changed the way people view homelessness.

“I think because people themselves have had to isolate, they can now identify with others who have to isolate all the time…I think people are much more aware of the poverty that’s out there and they want to help,” he said.

Money raised will go towards supporting NeighbourLink Chatham-Kent’s various initiatives including providing food and vital transportation to local residents in need free of charge.

Although the official walk day was on Saturday, residents are still invited to walk any day for the remainder of the month. Direct donations can also be made by visiting the Coldest Night of the Year website.