More than 100 people braved the cold to raise awareness and money for the hungry, homeless and hurting.
Red Deer was one of the 130-plus communities across the country participating in the Coldest Night of the Year, Canada’s national walk for homelessness, on Saturday.
This was the third year the event, featuring two- and five-kilometre walks, was hosted by The Mustard Seed, which was targeting to raise $20,000 to support basic operations.
Byron Bradley, The Mustard Seed’s managing director, said the event’s goal is to raise support and awareness for “our most vulnerable citizens.”
People walking “will be outside for an hour, maybe two hours. A lot of our most vulnerable will spend eight to 10 hours a day outside,” he said.
“I met a gentleman not so long ago who reckons he walks upwards of 40 kilometres a day on the streets of Red Deer.”
The money will support various programs at The Mustard Seed, including the school lunch program, which feeds more than 300 students every school day.
“We’re very fortunate to be doing this walk by choice, but there are many experiencing poverty where it’s not a choice,” said Bradley.
Bradley said the turnout was similar to previous years.
“It may be a little bit smaller than last year, but we also have the Canada Winter Games here. That’s a big important event that’s tough to compete with. But we’re just so glad to have families out here … to go for the walk together,” he said.
The walk’s route was designed to mimic a path many of the The Mustard Seed’s clients travel on a daily basis, including a stop at Hope Mission in downtown Red Deer. The walk began and ended at The Mustard Seed.
Coun. Lawrence Lee said events like the Coldest Night of the Year help the community.
“Red Deerians … come together for a great cause – to help somebody else, to reach out and say, ‘You guys are important.’
“We’ve got a lot of work to do in Red Deer,” he said. “Getting people from being vulnerable … to when they’re actually have something to call their own is a tough journey.”