By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
In Canada, we know cold.
And on Feb. 24, some generous people are about to get to know the cold a lot better when they take part in the annual Coldest Night of the Year walkathon in support of The Refuge.
The Refuge is an Oshawa charity that provides support to homeless or street involved youth from across Durham Region. Since opening its doors in 1999, the organization has helped over 5,000 youth. On an annual basis, the Refuge will serve around 17,000 hot meals, usher in 450 to 500 kids through its doors and have kids access their services anywhere between 9,000 and 10,000 times.
The Coldest Night of the Year, a nation-wide event, will raise much needed dollars for the organization which, as a charity, relies on this type of fundraising to keep its doors open and programs running.
This will be the seventh time the event has run in Oshawa and The Refuge hopes to raise, at minimum, $70,000. Last year, the event raised $71,000 in support.
The event consists of either a two, five, or 10 km walk where participants raise money through sponsorships and donations, all the while raising awareness about homelessness.
“It is a great event that is not only fun for everyone, but also drives home that our youth face homelessness even in sub-zero temperatures,” says Clarence Keesman, the executive director of The Refuge, who has vowed to walk the entire 10 kilometres in full hockey goalie equipment if the fundraising goal is met.
“Many of the youth who come to The Refuge have to walk everywhere regardless in all sorts of scenarios,” he says.
To date, the fundraising campaign has raised nearly $21,000 from 163 walkers and 40 teams.
To support The Refuge, residents can register to participate online at www.cnoy.org/location/oshawa.