A new fundraising initiative in Swift Current will support the work of a local non-profit organization and make a difference to individuals experiencing homelessness, hurt and hunger.
The Swift Current Community Youth Initiative (SCCYI) at The Center is hosting the inaugural Coldest Night of the Year fundraising walk in the city.
“We see this as a new opportunity to engage with our community in a safe way while also raising much needed funds for The Center,” SCCYI Executive Director Nathan Wiebe said. “We see this also as opening up the possibilities of people with different mobile capabilities, friends, supporters and people in different locations to engage in this event as well.”
It is a family-friendly and pandemic appropriate activity that allows teams to carry out their fundraising walks in their own COVID-safe bubbles at any time of their choosing until Feb. 20.
Coldest Night of the Year is a national fundraising initiative that partners with non-profit organizations in communities across Canada to organize annual walks on Feb. 20.
A walk on a chilly night can cause people to reflect on the situation of individuals who need a helping hand and participating teams can make a difference through the funds they raise for a local charity partner.
“It’s the whole notion to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes and to say we’re going to put together a team,” he mentioned. “We’re going to walk for a cause, and the cause is to bring awareness to the hungry, the homeless and the hurting.”
The Coldest Night of the Year format is different for 2021 due to the pandemic. The local charity partners in some communities are still hosting a COVID-safe walk for teams on Feb. 20, but many are providing an alternative virtual option, which allows teams to arrange their own walks over two or five-kilometre distances to ensure the safety of participants.
The SCCYI decided to only have the virtual option for the inaugural Coldest Night of the Year in Swift Current, and teams can choose to walk when and where they feel comfortable before Feb. 20.
“When we say this event is virtual, we still encourage people to get safely as a team outside and chose a route that they would enjoy, or one that we have designated within the two or five kilometres,” he explained. “Virtually doesn’t mean online, it means you chose when you’d like to walk, where you’d like to walk. You get to make it work for you.”
The event will raise funds for the SCCYI, which will make it possible to offer programming for Grade 6-12 youth in a safe environment at The Center in downtown Swift Current.
“So that’s providing those services for our youth and to fund our counselling as well,” he said. “Our counselling is a huge part of what we do. We have a qualified counsellor that has her masters in counselling, and she’s here full-time and free. We don’t charge for that service here. That’s something that we pride ourselves on to be able to support people at that level, because it is incredibly important.”
The SCCYI introduced online programming options since the start of the pandemic, but it is still able to provide in-person activities to youth.
“We’ve been given a mandate to only have 15 youth in the building,” he noted. “The most important thing what we’ve said has been to remain connected with our youth and to be able to stay open within the regulations we’ve been given. We work really hard to make sure we offer a very safe and fun environment for our kids and to be able to still have our doors open for kids to come and hang out in a safe environment is of the utmost importance to us.”
It has become a real challenge for the SCCYI to raise funds since the start of the pandemic due to public health restrictions on the size of gatherings and events.
They therefore decided to arrange a Coldest Night of the Year event as a way to create a new fundraising opportunity that can also help to raise awareness in the community about their activities to support youth.
According to Wiebe their goal is to raise between $30,000 and $40,000 through this event.
“Last year we lost close to $40,000 in fundraising because of COVID,” he said. “So we’re hoping that this event is able to provide us with that kind of support.”
Their goal is to have 20 to 25 teams participate in the event. There is no registration fee and teams can register online through the Coldest Night of the Year website (www.cnoy.org).
“We have a really user-friendly, easy platform to fundraise through and that’s been super helpful for us,” he said.
This website provides a lot of information to help teams with their fundraising activities, including pledge forms and promotional materials. It offers useful fundraising tips, including suggestions on setting up a fundraising page.
Team members can use the online FundHub to connect with family and friends and to direct people to their personal fundraising pages.
There is a link on the Coldest Night of the Year website to each participating community in Canada. The information under each community includes details about all the teams, and there is an option to make online donations to a team or to individual walkers.