Over 200 Saultites gathered at St. Vincent Place on Saturday for the seventh annual Coldest Night of the Year Walk – a Canada-wide, family-friendly walk that helps raise money for charities that serve hungry, homeless and hurting people in communities across the country.
Here in the Sault, that place is St. Vincent Place.
St. Vincent Place Event Director Jennifer Sarlo said this event has continued to grow since it’s inception in the city seven years ago, with each year out-fundraising the year before. This year, walkers raised a total if $82,623 – surpassing their goal of $65,000. To date, the total funds raised surpass $300,000.
“It’s been great,” she said of the turnout. “Sault Ste. Marie is an amazing, generous community.”
This money helps St. Vincent Place to stay open and help the community with its’ soup kitchen, food bank and men’s shelter. Sarlo said it also helps with some of the capital projects.
“I see the work that St. Vincent Place does every day in our community and how it is a resource for men who are homeless and also a resource for the people who are living on the fringe of homelessness in our city, she said.
“Lots of people, especially in the middle of winter, are having a hard time just making ends meet and paying the electricity bill, and SVP provides a warm meal and a food bank available to families and individuals. So to raise funds that aren’t earmarked for anything, that isn’t controlled by anything, to raise funds to allow this place to continue doing it’s good work, is so important.”
Mayor Christian Provenzano, who has been participating in this event since his first year as mayor, was this year’s Honorary Chair.
“Since (my first walk), I’ve volunteered at St. Vincent Place with a group of volunteers and it’s a tremendous organization,” he told SaultOnline, saying when he was asked to come out again this year and support it, it was “an easy yes.”
“These volunteers and the people who work here at St. Vincent’s and the community has really come out and shown a great amount of support and they’ve done a tremendous fundraiser and it’s a great cause.”
For participant Joyce Nanni, this walk has been a way to become more involved in the community. The total amount she’s helped raise in the seven years she’s been involved has continued to increase. This year, her team, The Cool Dudes, raised almost $9,000.
Nanni said she thinks this event is a good way to raise awareness about homelessness in the community.
“This is a great way to come alongside and do a group hug with the city and just help out,” she said.
For more information on St. Vincent Place, click here.