Choose Life Ministry, which is based out of southeast Saskatchewan, is among the organizations that will participate in a fundraiser named the Coldest Night of the Year.
Choose Life founder Shelley Boyes said it is a nationwide walk that will happen Feb. 20. The ministry is holding the event in Estevan, starting at 4 p.m., with two-kilometre and five-kilometre outdoor walks. The Estevan Leisure Centre will be the start-finish area.
“It is to bring awareness to people who are homeless, hungry and hurting, and to raise funds for the charities who support those individuals,” said Boyes.
As the name implies, it will happen regardless of the weather conditions.
Organizers are still looking for sponsors and volunteers. They need route marshals, a welcome back team, photographers, and people who help with set-up and take-down. Volunteers would also be needed at a rest stop area partway through the walk.
Participants will be sent off in groups of 10 every 30 minutes, and they will be socially distanced. There won’t be an indoor gathering.
“There will be food, but it will be pre-packaged food, and beverages,” said Boyes.
Eight teams and more than 30 walkers have already registered, and they would like to have two or three more squads involved. A team captain will register, and then gather members, typically eight to 10 people.
Participants can also register and raise funds individually.
If an adult raises more than $150 or a youth raises more than $75, they will receive a free Coldest Night of the Year toque.
“You can participate virtually,” said Boyes. “We have a team that’s walking in Melita, Manitoba, and we have a team that’s walking near Carlyle, so all of those walkers won’t actually be walking in Estevan. They’ll be participating virtually from their own communities.”
Choose Life has been unable to host its annual fundraisers, such as its red carpet gala, so they had to do something creative to generate funds this year.
Last year Boyes and another staff member from Choose Life participated in a Coldest Night of the Year walk in Brandon, Man., and she said it was a fun, well-organized event that would do well in southeast Saskatchewan.
The money raised will go to Choose Life’s programming at its Homestead for Hope, where they help young women with life-controlling issues. Boyes said it costs about $5,000 per month to help each resident.
Choose Life has been able to remain open and operating during the pandemic, with measures in place. Boyes can’t disclose how many people are currently at the Homestead, but they have people in their care, and they aren’t at the capacity of six residents.