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Northern charities prepare for Coldest Night of The Year fundraiser

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In less than two weeks, thousands of people across the country will brave the cold weather to shine a light on what homeless and hungry people have to live with every day.

The Coldest Night of The Year event is a time for charities to remind the public that they need help more than ever as economic pressures hit them.

At The Gathering Place in North Bay, officials worked Monday to collect as many donations as possible.

“We’re talking about 1,200-1,500 meals that we serve between our outreach team and our team here,” said executive director Dennis Chippa.

Only about a third of the $55,000 goal has been met. Donations from the walk go to the soup kitchen’s daily operations and grocery bills.

“We can talk all we want about mental health and addiction and homelessness,” Chippa said.

“But if folks aren’t being fed a good, nutritious meal, it becomes even more difficult for them to function the rest of the way.”

The February fundraiser brings participants together to raise money for local charities that help the homeless and hungry. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

The February fundraiser brings participants together to raise money for local charities that help the homeless and hungry.

The walk allows New Hope Outreach Services in Sudbury to keep costs low for tenants, like the Blue Door Soup Kitchen and the Elgin Street Mission. Funds generated help to keep costs low by paying utilities and maintenance.

“Coldest Night of The Year is the largest single fundraiser of the year and last year we managed to bring in $130,000. This year, I’m hoping to at least match that,” said executive director Mark Dennis.

New Hope Outreach also oversees the Samaritan Centre, which houses food programs and acts as a warming area on cold nights.

Raised $75M since 2011

“We have two rehab programs here now, team challenge, and then we also run our own drop-in centre that provides mail, internet services and drop-in counselling,” Dennis said.

Since 2011, the evening walk has raised more than $75 million in 190 communities. As economic pressures and inflation hit harder, charities need as much help as possible.

“It doesn’t matter who I talk to and where. They’re all saying the same thing: across the continent, there’s inflationary pressure on families and rental is really expensive and really hard to find,” said Mika Takamaki, charity relations manager for the event.

“The cost of running a charity has run up dramatically.”

Takamaki said foodbanks and soup kitchens are a big part of the walk and many of them are finding their costs have doubled or even tripled.

“This perfect horrible storm of the rising need of way more people than ever before are asking to be helped and at the same time the cost of food has risen dramatically,” he said.

The walk is also taking place in 40 American communities. The goal is to generate $14 million across in Canada and the United States.

The walk is scheduled for Feb. 24. To find out walk details in your community, donation information and more about it, click here.

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