It may not have been the coldest night of the year, but the annual Coldest Night of the Year walk raised thousands for homeless people in Red Deer.
Temperatures were hovering around the -5 C mark for most of the weekend.
More than 170 people participated in the walk Saturday night, which raised more than $26,000 for men and women experiencing poverty.
“We’re really thrilled with the response we got from the community,” said Byron Bradley, The Mustard Seed managing director for Central Alberta.
The Mustard Seed, which hosted the event for the second straight year, was hoping to raise $25,000 and have 125 walkers at this year’s event.
Bradley said people who participate in events like this are “the heartbeat of the community.”
“Central Albertans … really care for their community. Ever since The Mustard Seed has been here – for the last 18 months – we see that day-in and day-out,” he said.
There were 95 walkers in last year’s Coldest Night of the Year in Red Deer, which raised about $20,000.
Proud our community is one of 120 Canadian cities participating in Coldest Night of the Year. Thanks to all volunteers who are walking in support of our homeless citizens: pic.twitter.com/YYDlBuEb3O
— Tara Veer (@TaraVeer) February 25, 2018
Matt Vanderleek, along with his wife and four children, took part in the walk Saturday.
“We do some volunteering with The Mustard Seed,” said Vanderleek. “The work they do is important to our city’s most vulnerable people. [The walk] is a really simple and easy way to help give back to the community.”
Vanderleek said just raising a portion of the $26,000-plus “feels awesome.”
Red Deer’s Alison Sherwin also participated in the Coldest Night of the Year walk. She said the event hits close to home.
“The Mustard Seed has been the home and hope for some people I love and are really close to me,” said Sherwin.
“There needs to be more events like this to raise the awareness and bring so much more hopefulness to the people who do need these kinds of organizations,” she said.
All profits from the walk will stay in Central Alberta, including towards The Mustard Seed’s school lunch program, serving dinners and helping provide people in need with clothes and hygiene products.
Loaves and Fishes hosted the CNOY in Red Deer for a couple years prior to closing down in 2016. When The Mustard Seed moved in to replace the faith-based charity, it decided to keep the event going.
There were more than 120 sites across Canada participating in the Coldest Night of the Year, which was founded in 2011.