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Feb. 20 will be the Coldest Night this year in Parksville Qualicum Beach

More than 90 communities across the country will take to the streets Feb. 20 raising money for local organizations tackling homelessness

The Coldest Night of the Year is a nationwide event encouraging Canadians to think about those less fortunate.

More than 90 communities across the country, including Parksville, will take to the streets Feb. 20 raising money for local organizations tackling homelessness and helping vulnerable people.

The idea is that you sign up as part of a team — or you can participate on your own — and walk two, five or 10 kilometres. The latter two will have a break at Pacific Brimm Coffee and Tea Co. Afterwards, participants line up for a bowl of hot chili and buns at Knox United Church.

“It’s supposed to give the feel of what it’s like to be in a soup kitchen,” explains Island Crisis Care Society executive director Violet Hayes. “In a small way, this is what people are facing every day.”

According to Salvation Army manager Lisa Clason, Parksville’s extreme weather shelter has had a record year so far with the shelter open 46 nights since November.

Last year, Parksville hosted the city’s first ever Coldest Night of the Year event raising $25,000. More than 200 people partook in the walk and proceeds went to local homelessness initiatives.

“It was amazing,” said Hayes about last year’s inaugural walk, noting local and provincial politicians came out to rally support and raise money for the cause. This year, Hayes said the fundraising goal is $30,000.

She’s encouraging participants to register early. Seven teams have already signed up. There is no minimum or maximum number of participants that have to be on a team.

“The best thing to do is go online, register to walk and start fundraising right away,” said Hayes, explaining that there is a registration cost of $150 for adults and $75 for children; however, if you raise that amount you don’t pay your registration fee. “The money we raise will stay in Parksville.”

Planning is just getting underway for the event and organizers are looking for more volunteers, and specifically a group to cater the event. It will be hosted at Knox United Church Feb. 20. Registration starts at 4 p.m. There will be an opening ceremony around 5 p.m. and the walk will kick off shortly thereafter.

For more information contact Tricia Plunkett at 250-752-3494 or visit https://coldestnightoftheyear.org/home.

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