Feature Story                                                                                            Monday, February 24, 2014


Homeless, Not Hopeless

Coldest Night walkers raise $22,757 for local Salvation Army soup kitchen and shelter

Staff/Voice photos


There were lots of smiles despite inclement weather on the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser. Below, Blanche Henderson and Chatsuree Srisoncemuand were ready for the walk on Saturday.


pend a night squatting under a bush downtown in the dead of winter and you'll learn what it's like for someone living on the streets. But that's just one night. Multiply it by 365 days and you'll understand the importance of life's basics like food and shelter.

While 80,000 people went about their daily lives in Chilliwack Saturday, 131 heroes filled the Salvation Army Friendship Centre auditorium on Brooks Ave. with a truckload of laughter before embarking on the Coldest Night of the Year Walk (CNOY).

The snow that coated Chilliwack over the weekend, underscored the importance the local fundraiser.

Food Banks are important not only because they assist low income families and individuals in times of need, but they're also a form of cheap public insurance in case of disasters like earthquakes and floods.


The Kiwanis Club of Sardis partnered with the Salvation Army for the Chilliwack arm of the Walk which had 65 volunteers and 18 teams consisting of 131 registered walkers whose objective was to raise $25,000.

Sheila Scoble, President of the Sardis Kiwanis Club and Event Director, whose husband is President of the Chilliwack Kiwanis Club, told walkers over the P.A. system that their club set precedents with the CNOY.

"We are the first shelter partner across Canada that has partnered with a shelter and soup kitchen program," she said. "Five of our teams have raised over $2000 and that is absolutely amazing."

According to Scoble, they collected $22,757 in donations, or about 91 per cent of their goal, and that there were 52 other locations taking part in the fundraiser across the country with 1,661 teams, 10,413 walkers and 1,377 volunteers raising a combined total of $2.5M for shelters.

Chilliwack resident Blanche Henderson, who has lived in the city with her husband for the last 20 years, says she has a new perspective about what it's like to be without a home after her brother went through a fire in Saskatewan.

"My community is doing a wonderful thing for the homeless people, so I want to do this and hope people in other parts of the community help people who need a home and I need the exercise," she said laughing.

Thailand national, Chatsuree Srisoncemuand, who is staying with Henderson for six months, was also at the walk and told the Voice it was the first time she's had a chance to walk outside at night.

Srisoncemuand was thrilled with the snow.

"We never had snow in Thailand, 25C is cold for us," she said.

Shelter & Outreach Director Kyle Belton said the Salvation Army has a lot of different programs they offer to people in need within the community.

"This money is specifically going to helping the homeless and hungry to access our soup kitchen and emergency shelter, and that is a big chunk of money to be able to do something really great, and thank you to all of you for that," he said.

"There are not enough words to thank each and every one of you for your efforts for CNOY," said Scoble in a release on Sunday. "Many went above and beyond expectations and their job descriptions to ensure our success."

She said that despite the cold and damp weather, everyone was upbeat including the Kiwanis Service Leadership group from from G.W. Graham called the Sohl Key Club. City councillor Ken Popove and his wife showed up, however it's unclear if they took part in the walk.

Scoble says organizers would like to hear from participants.

"Please take a few moments to reflect on this experience and if you have suggestions on how we can make this even more successful, please forward them to Kyle and myself. We will be hosting a post Core Team Meeting on Tuesday, April 15 at 7:00pm at Salvation Army in the Friendship Hall. By that date, we should have our final results to share with you all."

Walk participants were all given toques emblazoned with the CNOY logo and a big bowl of chili to warm them up after the walk.

The public can still donate up to March 14th either online, by mail specifying it's for Chilliwack to: Attn: Coldest Night of the Year, Blue Sea Philanthropy, 260-659 King Street East, Kitchener, ON, Canada N2G 2M4, or by dropping off a cash or cheque donation at the Friendship Centre located at 46420 Brooks Ave.

Food and clothing donations are always appreciated at the Care and Share Centre located at 45746 Yale Rd.

For more information, visit www.coldestnightoftheyear.org/location/chilliwack

See more photos below.


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