The Refuge, a local charity which works with homeless and street youth in Durham Region, will be hosting the ninth annual event on Saturday, Feb. 22, with the aim of raising $80,000.
If this fundraising goal is met, Refuge executive director Clarence Keesman will walk the 10 km route as Bonhomme, the snowman mascot of the Québec Winter Carnival.
Since opening in 1999, The Refuge has helped over 5,500 youth in the Durham Region. Each year, The Refuge serves an average of 18,000 hot meals and snacks, welcomes between 450 to 500 youth through their doors who use their services and programs between 9,000 to 10,000 times. As a charity, The Refuge relies on donations and special events to keep their doors open.
Coldest Night of the Year is a fundraising event hosted in 140 different communities across Canada. It consists of a two, five or 10 km walk where participants raise money for their local charity and generate awareness about homelessness.
This year the goal is to raise $6 million across Canada for charities that work with the hurting, hungry and the homeless.
The Refuge is the host charity in Oshawa and last year raised more than $96,000.
“It’s a great event that brings our community together in support of the most vulnerable in our area. In an individualistic (and sometimes even isolated) culture, it’s a beautiful sight to see hundreds of people join together to show our homeless and hurting youth that they are valued, loved, and worthy of a positive future,” explains Keesman.
He says while walking 10 km in an enormous snowman suit may be uncomfortable, the fact hundreds of homeless youth in Durham will be helped is motivation to press on.
Durham residents can support The Refuge by registering to participate at www.cnoy.org/oshawa.
The kickoff party starts at 4 p.m. at the start/finish location, Lviv Hall, located at 38 Lviv Blvd., and the evening ends with a chilli cook-off competition for walkers to warm up after their walk.