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“The first five kilometres is always full of excitement, lots of people and light,” says Katy McGregor. “The last five kilometres it changes… it starts to get dark. Only a few people walk and you experience being alone, and possible cold temperatures.”
McGregor is describing how it feels to participate in the Coldest Night of the Year walk, something she’s been doing since the nation-wide event came to Huntsville six years ago. That feeling of being cold and alone is fitting—the event is a fundraiser and awareness-builder for people who are hungry, hurting and homeless. Money raised in Huntsville supports The Table Soup Kitchen Foundation.
“I’m very proud to raise awareness for The Table and proud to be part of this amazing experience for the last six years,” says McGregor. “I feel great when I’m done and proud to know that I have helped someone in need in some way.”
Participants in the Coldest Night of the Year walk gathered pledges ahead of time and then walked their choice of a two, five or 10-kilometre route on the evening of Saturday, February 23.
This year, Huntsville’s event had 60 walkers and 14 teams who raised a total of $31,000.
McGregor and her team, Muskoka Builders’ Association Walking Proud, raised more than $5,000. Her team of five people included her 12-year-old daughter, Nikki, who raised $150 all on her own.
The top five fundraising teams in Huntsville were:
- The Town Walkers (captain Jason FitzGerald): $5,655
- Muskoka Builders’ Association Walking Proud (captain Katy McGregor): $5,015
- MBRP Exhausted Walkers (captain Ginger Barkey): $2,955
Huntsville Weedman (captain Adam Begg): $1,765
Muskoka Community Church (captain April McClung): $1,530
“The funds raised from this event help ensure The Table is able to run the amazing programs it offers to the community,” said event director Jennifer Jerrett.
The Table’s programs and services include:
- The Table Food Bank which supports the hungry in our community
- The Exchange Store which supports those who are in need of things such as kitchen items, clothing, toys, baby items and craft supplies
- The Soup Kitchen which provides delicious dinners
- The Community Kitchen, a unique initiative that is focused on family and self improvement. Participants cook together, share meals, learn more about healthy eating and nutrition, label reading, shopping tips and cost-effective eating choices.
- Love Connection which offers personal, generous and intimate needs such as computer training, birthday bags, special occasion gifts, Christmas family sponsorship, and community connections through partnerships with other organizations.
- The Men’s Shelter which is an eight-bed emergency shelter that welcomes males aged 16 and older. They provide a comfortable, warm bed, three healthy meals and night snack, shower facilities, laundry facilities, change of clothing, evening programming, opportunity to volunteer, access to Community Kitchen Cooking Programs, access to a Nurse Practitioner, and assistance to develop goals and plans of action to move out of homelessness.
“This year was a huge success because of our media presence, sponsors, walkers and donors!” said Jerrett, “Our community is so amazingly generous… The love for The Table Soup Kitchen Foundation is so overwhelming.”
Since its inception Coldest Night of the Year has raised more than five million dollars across Canada.
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