By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Streets Alive Mission hosted the Coldest Night of the Year at Land’o Lakes Golf Club on Feb. 26. It is the eleventh year the Streets Alive Mission has hosted this event, and the second year the walk has taken place at Land’o Lakes golf course in Coaldale.
Jennifer Lepko, director of Fund development with Streets Alive said the event was organized as both a virtual and in-person event, after deeming the hybrid format successful in 2021.
“Last year we were the only group in western Canada to host an in-person event as well as the virtual because of all the restrictions,” said Lepko, adding Streets Alive was able to work in partnership with AHS to accommodate the health restrictions at the time and offer an in-person option for participants.
Approximately 200 participants stepped out onto the golf course on Saturday in a show of support for local charities, walking a two or five-kilometre circuit. The goal of the annual event is to raise funds for local charities which provide essential services and resources for marginalized community members in the region, including people currently experiencing homelessness.
Lepko said, “the money goes towards people who are experiencing hurt, hunger, and homelessness. So for Streets Alive, in particular, the money raised goes to all kinds of our outreach programming.” She added services and items provided include food, winter clothing, and shelter spaces. Shelter is a particularly important focus in regions like southern Alberta which experience dangerous and extended cold snaps.
While the in-person CNOY event cannot replicate the prolonged challenges experienced by unhoused community members during the winter, the walk aims to raise money to combat some of the more extreme challenges faced by marginalized people.
“It is very uncomfortable for the majority of us to run from a warm house to a warm car to a warm building back and forth, and maybe spend some time shovelling the sidewalk, but we don’t have to live in it and be outside for an extended period,” Lepko said.
Lepko said more people are accessing support services in the wake of economic challenges. Despite this, recent years’ fundraising efforts have exceeded pre-pandemic targets, meaning donations have not fallen.
“This year, our goal is to raise $70,000,” Lepko said.
As of Feb. 24, 78 per cent of that goal had already been pledged, but Lepko was hopeful even more would be raised in the coming days. “We’re really anticipating that we are going to exceed our goal. We’re very hopeful. Last year we raised almost $73,000.”
Lepko said the goal for 2021 was $25,000 since organizers were unsure of how the pandemic would impact fundraising efforts, but the final number raised was nearly triple this target. Before 2021’s record-breaking total, the highest amount raised was “around $55,000.” Lepko added the number of walkers participating in 2021 grew compared to recent years as well.
In 2021, Land’o Lakes Golf Club allowed the CNOY event to take place on the golf course.
“It is a beautiful location,” explained Lepko, adding the site is free from traffic and offers improved accessibility.
“We are so, so thankful to every single person that has walked or that has contributed, our sponsors, the media who’s been brilliant at getting this out for us again, it’s just so nice to see.”
Streets Alive serves all of southern Alberta. For more information on their partnerships and future initiatives and events, visit https://streetsalive.ca/.
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