From left

From left

More than $34K raised on Coldest Night of the Year in Parksville

The event started and finished at Knox United Church in Parksville

More than 200 people pulled on bright blue toques, laced up comfortable shoes and hit the streets for the homeless in the second annual Oceanside/Parksville Coldest Night of the Year walk on Saturday.

The walkers raised more than $34,000 for Island Crisis Care Society, which partners with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Island Health and the Society of Organized Services (SOS) to provide housing assistance and support.

“We work together as a team to support our clients,” said Violet Hayes, executive director of ICCS.

The event, which offered the option of two-kilometer, 5K and 10K walks, started and finished at Knox United Church in Parksville, which hosted opening ceremonies and a hot chili feed afterward. Quality Foods donated food and Pacific Brimm coffee shop provided free hot drinks and platters of cookies at a midpoint pit stop on the 5K and 10K routes.

The Coldest Night walk began just after the sun set on what had been a bright day. During the opening ceremonies, participants were told they might experience cold or discomfort as the temperature dropped. They were urged to remember this was simply a snapshot of what Canada’s homeless experience every day.

“Four and a half years ago I was homeless,” said John Lander, who walked with the team Walking for a Way Out.

“I was experiencing mental health and addiction issues and those issues took me to the streets, where there was nothing to eat and you were dumpster-diving and wrapping yourself in newpaper if it was a cold night.”

“For a lot of years I was walking in darkness, until I got into a group with Island Crisis Care. They took me in, they gave me a bed, they gave me food, they gave me compassion, they gave me love.”

The walkers, most taking part in teams, gathered funds through pledges. As of Saturday night, 158 participants in the local walk had collected or been pledged $24,061.42 of a $30,000 goal. Hayes said donations were expected to continue trickling in over the next couple of weeks.

Prize bags were awarded to the top fundraisers. Lander raised $815, and his Walking for a Way Out teammate Cassidie Lawrence led youth contributions with $408. The overall pledge collector was Gary Hogan of ONAS Striders, with $1,425 raised.

Coldest Night of the Year is a nationwide initiative to bring awareness and financial support to the issue of homelessness and housing security. The event debuted in Parksville in 2015. Previously, Hayes said, Island Crisis Care Centre had participated through the Coldest Night walk in Nanaimo.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Curling season is over at the Parksville Curling Club and Qualicum Beach Curling Club. (PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: Parksville and Qualicum Beach curling clubs forced to end season

Restrictions impact financial sustainability of both operations

(PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: No public attendance or participation for Jan. 18 Parksville council meeting

Citizens can still offer feedback via email, telephone or written submissions

Town of Qualicum Beach council will charge the St. Andrews Lodge Historical and Cultural Society for power and heat for the historic lodge. (PQB News file photo)
Society to pay electric bills for historic St. Andrews Lodge in Qualicum Beach

Group will not have access to building until lease is formally signed

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits Nanoose Bay property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury

The section of Highway 19A between Laburnum Road and Goodyear Road was closed to traffic due to a single vehicular accident. (DriveBC illustration)
Section of highway closed after vehicle hits pole near Qualicum Beach

Traffic disrupted for hours; two people taken to hospital

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read