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Coldest Night of the Year draws a crowd

2802sallyannB1 Bogdan Stanciu/NNSL photo Participants gather after the frigid walk for a nice meal and conversation February 24 2018

Some 50 people gathered at the Salvation Army on Sunday night for the annual Coldest Night of the Year walk.

The 4th annual walk brought out newcomers, regulars, and both individuals and groups. The event is held in 120 communities across the country – all in support of charities which serve homeless and other disadvantaged people.

The Salvation Army’s event Saturday started with bright smiles and conversation in a second floor room of the building, where participants gathered for a prayer and an introduction before heading out onto the streets for the five-kilometre walk.

Bree Denning, a guest speaker and executive director of the Yellowknife Women’s Society, spoke to the  crowd about the importance of compassion for the less fortunate in Yellowknife.

“The Coldest Night of the Year is designed to allow everyone feel a tiny piece of the challenge faced by those experiencing homelessness in the winter. As you walk, imagine what it would be like if you didn’t know that you would be returning to the warmth of this room."

Afterwards, the interim executive director for the Salvation Army, James Moulton, stood up and introduced some of the people who would be walking.

Groups with names such as Holy Strollers, Walking the Walk and Walking the Talk and Irish We Were Warmer, cheered as their names were called out.

Moulton also reminded the crowd of the importance of the funds raised.

“Any given night we can have up to 49 people staying here at the shelter, last night there were 37 people – the need is great in the community and I appreciate what you guys are doing tonight.”

After the walkers set out, Moulton spoke with Yellowknifer about the money raised.

“We’ve raised about $9,500 online, and with in-person donations we estimate our numbers to be about $12,000 this year,” he said.

That was a drop from last year’s $16,000, but the money and the amount comes at a perfect time.

“We’re ecstatic with $12,000 because our current project of replacing some of our industrial washers and dryers would cost us in the range of $9000 to $11,000. It’s perfect for us.”

Of course, there are always projects that need funding, so additional money would be welcome.

“There's always a list of projects – if we had raised $16,000, it would've gone towards repairing washroom facilities. But there's always next year!”

About an hour after the participants set out, they began to make their way back to the warmth of the Salvation Army, where they had the chance to enjoy some chili with friends and family.