The Coldest Night of the Year event aims to raise both money and awareness around the issue of homelessness in Canada. (Black Press Media)

The Coldest Night of the Year event aims to raise both money and awareness around the issue of homelessness in Canada. (Black Press Media)

The Coldest Night of the Year comes to Sooke

National event helps those who are hungry and homeless

Anyone can lose their footing in life, but since 2011 a program called Coldest Night of the Year has invited people to walk through the cold and dark to aid those who’s own walk through life has been a challenge.

This year Sooke residents will be invited to take part.

It’s all an initiative of the Sooke Shelter Society.

“Our goal is to raise $20,000 on our first walk, and we’ll be using that money to buy tents, sleeping bags, shoes, socks and warm clothing for Sooke’s homeless population,” Sherry Thompson, Sooke Shelter Society president, said.

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“This year’s weather has already been a challenge to our homeless and we’re doing our best to do what we can with very limited funding.”

Thompson estimates the Sooke Region is home to as many as 60 homeless people, but points out that not all of those people are on the street at any point in time.

“There are some who live rough, but there is a whole other group who rely on couch-surfing to survive. These people get shelter from people they know, but that shelter is not permanent and can end at any time, putting those people back out in the cold,” Thompson said.

Although the walk is still a month away, the society is working to sign up walkers for the event and is encouraging the formation of local teams to support the event.

“We reached out to Journey Middle School where the Grade 6 class has challenged the other classes to see who can raise the most funds,” Thompson said.

“We’ve also got some businesses and service clubs who have expressed interest as well as groups of friends who want to take part.”

The Coldest Night of the Year Walkathon is a fun, family friendly national walk that helps raise funds for a host of charities that serve the hungry, homeless and other hurting people across Canada. The event operates in more than 200 cities across the country, with several events being run in Greater Victoria.

RELATED: Other Greater Victoria walks

“In Sooke we’ll be doing a five-kilometre walk on the evening of Feb. 22, starting out at the Sooke Child, Youth and Family Centre (6672 Wadams Way) at 4 p.m. and looping around through town before ending back up at the centre. There’ll be some rest stops with hot drinks, and at the end we’ll have some soup or chili for the walkers to warm up with,” Thompson said.

“It’s going to be a bit cold, but it should be fun. It’s for a great cause.”

Anyone wishing to be a part of the walk by registering as a single walker or by forming a team, or by registering to volunteer or make a donation is invited to call the Sooke Shelter Society at 250-858-7700 or online at

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