Red Deerians will walk a mile – or more – in the shoes of those experiencing homelessness Feb. 23.
The Mustard Seed is hosting third annual Coldest Night of the Year – a family-friendly walk that raises money for charities serving hungry, homeless people.
The Canada-wide event gets Canadians to step outside the warmth and comfort of home and shine a light of welcome and inclusion, cnoy.org website states.
Laura Unruh, Mustard Seed community development coordinator, said the event raises money, which stays in the city and raises awareness.
“By walking at dusk during a winter’s night you feel a hint of the challenge faced by those who are experiencing homelessness during the winter,” she said.
Last year, the event raised $35,000 for the Mustard Seed Red Deer.
That amount is helpful for the local organization.
Unruh said the money goes towards programs and services the organization offers such as the school lunch program and evening meals for those accessing services at the Mustard Seed Red Deer.
“If you want to break it down: we use some of the money to support our school lunch program and it’s $2 per lunch, per child, so that’s 17,500 lunches for kids right here in Red Deer.”
After the two, five and 10 kilometre walks downtown, walkers will enjoy a meal at the local organization.
“The purpose of that is to grow community… it allows people to enter our doors and it removes barriers and stigma, for instance, some people might be frightened to come to the Mustard Seed and it’s a safe place for people to come and experience community,” she said.
Over the last two years, the event has grown with about 86 registrants in 2017 and about 200 in 2018.
Unruh is hoping about 200 people to sign up this year.
“I recognize that it being smack dab in the middle of the (Canada Winter) Games that might pose a challenge,” she said.
Registration to the walk opens at 4 p.m. Feb. 23, followed by the walk at 5:15 and dinner at 6 p.m. For more information visit cnoy.org.