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Coldest Night of the Year campaign off and running

Newmarket's seasonal homeless shelter relies on the annual fundraising walk, being held on Feb. 23, 2019, for funds and support
20181214 iftc KC
Friends of the Inn from the Cold kicked off the Coldest Night of the Year fundraising walk, scheduled for Feb. 23, 2019, including (from left) Juli Playter, Melissa Shafa, Tracee Chambers, Rebecca Mitchell, East Gwillimbury Mayor Virginia Hackson, Newmarket Aurora MP Kyle Peterson, MPP Christine Elliott, Newmarket Mayor John Taylor, Inn from the Cold executive director Ann Watson, Wayne Ford, Rebecca Thickett and Martha Berry. Kim Champion/NewmarketToday

It may be billed as the Coldest Night of the Year, but the annual fundraiser for Newmarket’s seasonal homeless shelter Inn from the Cold fires up the competitive spirit.

The local shelter kicked off its fundraising campaign today, Dec. 14, in support of Coldest Night, which features teams and individuals taking part in a family-friendly 2-km, 5-km or 10-km walk throughout various routes in Newmarket. Participants last year raised $66,000.

For 14 years, the Inn has provided services, seasonal overnight shelter from November to April, a drop-in program, weekly community meal,  and other supports to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.

So far, 11 teams, 26 walkers, and three volunteers are ready to roll for the Feb. 23, 2019 event. And, $7,330 or 18 per cent of the Inn’s $40,000 goal has already been raised. Participants can check out the Newmarket Scoreboard to find out where their fundraising efforts stand against others who have registered.

The Coldest Night fundraising walk takes place in about 100 communities across Canada each February, raising much needed funds, awareness and a better understanding of the experience of being out on the cold streets in the middle of winter.

Inn from the Cold executive director Ann Watson said 2019 is going to be a challenging year for funding.

“Our rent has gone up and food costs are up, and we have to make up the difference somehow,” Watson said. “We’re full every night and people are hungry. When we started the drop-in two years ago, we had six to eight people. Now, we see between 38 to 50 people each day of the drop-in.”

The new year will also find the Inn’s leadership team gearing up for a capital campaign to help it find a new location. As well, there’s a renewed push to recruit volunteers.

“We can’t deliver our services without them,” Watson said. “Right now, we have 187 volunteers and they’re all working weekly or bi-weekly. But we’re actively looking for volunteers.”

Members of the Inn team met for the first time with Newmarket-Aurora MPP and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott prior to the official photograph marking the launch of the Coldest Night fundraising campaign.

The Newmarket Coldest Night of the Year begins and ends at Riverwalk Commons, 200 Doug Duncan Dr. All participants receive the now-iconic blue toque. Warm drinks will also help keep participants going on what’s likely to be a cold night.

The York Regional Police Services Board is the 2019 walk's lead sponsor.

To register yourself or a team, and for more information on the Coldest Night of the Year walk in Newmarket, visit here.

For more information, to donate or volunteer with the Inn from the Cold, visit here.

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Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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