Everyone has their own reason for supporting the Coldest Night of the Year Fundraiser in Gravenhurst. For Sarah Hiscox, it’s all about community spirit and the power of people to lift one another up.
“Gravenhurst may be a small community but it’s a powerful community,” says Hiscox, who is the co-chair of the event this year along with Beth Houston. “It’s exciting to be a part of and it’s an incredible feeling to be able to support people in the community who are struggling with hurt and hunger.”
Since the first edition of the Coldest Night took place in Gravenhurst five years ago, the community has rapidly grown to be one of the top fundraising locations in the country. Last year the Gravenhurst edition of Coldest Night eclipsed its fundraising goal of $100,000, earning some $177,000. This year they plan to go even further and they’re well on their way with more than $62,000 raised so far and the event set to take place on Feb. 25 As of today they are also currently ranked as the fourth highest fundraising location in Canada.
Hiscox became involved with the program last year when she was asked to be a part of the planning committee.
“I was sort of new to the Gravenhurst area but I had heard of it and I liked the whole idea behind it,” she says. “I fell in love with the cause and the event immediately. It was an amazing experience just to see the hype surrounding it and how the entire community came together.”
Hiscox says the team aspect is one of the main reasons why the Gravenhurst edition of Coldest Night has become such a huge success. There are currently 50 teams registered in Gravenhurst and more than 200 walkers.
“Last year was a huge success and part of that is just the way the teams are able to feed off one another’s energy,” she says.
Last year the event was still operating under some covid protocols, and the congregating was kept to a minimum. This year they plan to make up for lost time with a pizza party at the Lions Pavilion following the walk.
Hiscox says many local businesses have already stepped forward to donate food and other items for the walkers, who will also benefit from rest stops along the way where they can pick up a hot drink or a snack.
The money raised will go towards Gravenhurst Against Poverty (G.A.P.) something Hiscox is also quite familiar with.
Hiscox organizes a free, monthly youth program as part of G.A.P.’s outreach initiatives.
G.A.P. is an inclusive, open, and transparent, grassroots, charitable organization, with the goal of reducing poverty within the greater Gravenhurst community. G.A.P. has three pillars of service that include support for those facing food insecurity, transportation barriers and/or mental wellness challenges. They offer a variety of programs. including transit support, wellness initiatives and a food program that currently assists more than 600 families each week.
Walkers this year can participate in either 2K or 5K distances with a goal of raising $150 each. If they hit their target they also earn a Coldest Night of the Year – emblazoned toque to lend a little warmth on their coldest nights of the year. For those under 12, the target is just $75.
Hiscox says everyone is encouraged to participate, even if it’s just coming out to cheer on the walkers. However, it’s vital that anyone looking to take part pre-registers for the event.
To register, donate or get more information on Coldest Night of the Year visit https://cnoy.org/location/gravenhurst.
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