Walkers gather ahead of the Huntsville walk (Photo taken by Martin Halek)
The organizers of the Gravenhurst and Huntsville Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) fundraisers were not surprised to see their communities empty their pockets for them.
Gravenhurst Against Poverty (GAP) raised $174,943, while The Table Soup Kitchen Foundation in Huntsville raised $86,831.
“It’s an amazing testament to Gravenhurst and the size of their hearts,” Bryan White, co-chair of the Gravenhurst Coldest Night of the Year Planning Committee says. Over 400 people participated this year, White says, more than doubling the previous high.
With an initial goal of $75,000, White says the end result blew them away. “In almost every single category and metric, this was a record year for GAP,” he says.
This is the fourth year GAP has participated in CNOY. Out of the 167 participating locations, Gravenhurst’s fundraising total puts them ninth.
Meanwhile, it was an incredible year in Huntsville as well. The Table had 165 walkers and hit 144 per cent of their $60,000 goal. More than $22,000 came from one team, captained by town councillor Jason FitzGerald and made up of several town staff and related people.
Heather Cassie, founder of The Table Soup Kitchen Foundation, praised and thanked walkers and event sponsors.
“We had an amazing turnout, it’s been a fabulous night,” said Cassie after the walk finished. “We’re at the end of it, going to pack up and go rest.”
According to Cassie, the event is their biggest fundraiser of the year. The money goes towards keeping The Table’s shelves stocked with food, with funds also going towards the non-profit’s low-cost hostel. Cassie adds that with the overflow funds, they can start thinking about making some vital repairs to the building.
“I’m feeling pretty fantastic, and pretty hopeful about the year ahead,” says Cassie. “Just knowing that we’ve got the funds coming in for Coldest Night, we can do some planning and celebrating.”
At GAP, White says the money will be used to support their food program, which helps feed over 600 people every week. It will also go towards their transit programs, notably their free-to-use taxi program that is open to anyone needing an essential ride like to get laundry done or get to a job interview. White says some of the money will go towards GAP’s ongoing young adult centre.
Donations can still be made to the fundraisers in Huntsville and Gravenhurst until March 31.
Written by Mathew Reisler and Martin Halek