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Coldest Night of Year Fundraiser generates over $80k for homeless youth in the valley

Year two of the Coldest Night of the Year walking fundraiser has come and gone.

The fundraiser is a part of the Cowichan branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) multi-year effort to generate enough funds for a safe space for homeless youth in the valley.

The event lived up to its name, coincidentally falling on one of the coldest nights of 2023, in the midst of a snowfall warning expecting 10-15 centimetres. Despite the weather, Thornton says the turnout was strong.

“We were getting a little worried that people might not show up because of the weather, but I think almost everybody showed up,” says Thornton.

By everybody, she means the 356 walkers across 60 teams that had registered for the event. As of February 27th, they had raised over $82,000.

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“That doesn’t include any cheques or cash that have come in,” says Thornton. “Those probably won’t show up for another week or so.”

The fundraising was truly a team effort, as no individual or team raised more than 8 per cent of the total fund. The top team was Team New Life (raising just over $7,000), Friends of Centennial Park (~$5,500), and Sylvan United Church (~$5,200). That was followed by eight teams that raised over $2,000 and 14 more teams that raised over $1,000.

The number of walkers and money generated was slightly below last year – which was the inaugural running of the event. That year had raised just over $90,000.

“We are really pleased with the result, so we can’t complain,” says Thornton. “Last year was a different year because it was the tail end of COVID. I think people showed up partly because they hadn’t been out of the house for a really long time and they were really looking forward to participating in something like that […] This year, maybe that might’ve worn off a little bit.”

They are still accepting donations as part of this fundraiser until March 31st. You can donate on the Duncan page of the Coldest Night of the Year website.

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