Participants won’t gather for the Coldest Night of the Year walk, but the event to raise money for homelessness support services is still a go.
The walk, hosted by Island Crisis Care Society, was originally scheduled for Feb. 20, but social distancing orders mean that holding the fundraiser this year is impossible. Elspeth Erickson, society resource development coordinator, said the walk will be virtual, although not in a traditional sense.
Erickson said the society wanted to respect people’s need to remain safe during the pandemic, but still allow them to take part in the community event. It is an opportunity for people to think about those suffering through “terrible experiences,” needing support, she said.
“Instead of having an event day, we wanted to keep it distanced and keep it safe, so what we’re doing instead is offering what we’re calling ‘virtual walking’…” said Erickson. “What we’re doing is allowing people … to walk in their own time, in their own place, any time during the month of February.”
There are two- and five-kilometre route options, including routes in downtown Nanaimo, Labieux Road and Buttertubs Marsh, although Erickson said the intention isn’t to insist that people walk along the same route; it is for people to feel like they’re taking part.
Tuques are offered as a keepsake for people who reach certain fundraising thresholds and prize bags will be given to everyone who participates.
“It’s so important in this time, when everyone feels so distant, that people can really feel like they’re part of something that’s bigger,” said Erickson.
Servicing Parksville and Nanaimo, Island Crisis Care Society runs 12 programs through seven sites, offering assistance to individuals experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, said a press release. This includes Samaritan House women’s emergency shelter, for which a permanent facility is set to open later this year.
The 2021 walk will be the 10th annual.
To sign up, as an individual or a team, or to donate, people can go to www.cnoy.org and select Nanaimo as a location.
For more information on Island Crisis Care Society, go to www.islandcrisiscaresociety.ca.