More Langley walkers needed for Coldest Night of the Year

People are slow to register for this year’s charity walk to aid the Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope.

This week’s dump of snow serves as a great reminder how fortunate most people in Langley are to have a roof over their heads.

But there are dozens and dozens of people in this community who are homeless, and a charity event coming up Saturday, Feb. 24 is designed to raise awareness and money to help those very people, said Shirley Stewart, coordinator of the fifth annual Coldest Night of the Year event.

Registration for the event is ramping up, she said. There are about 100 people already signed up, and the number is slowly creeping up close to last year’s total of 120 walkers.

“It’s Langley, people here always sign up for things last minute,” Stewart said.

Often, she added, people are waiting to see what the weather is like. But don’t do that, especially in this case.

“The weather shouldn’t deter people. After all, it is the Coldest Night of the Year event. It’s about experiencing what it’s like living on the streets, walking around in the cold and wet. Getting just a sense of what a homeless person’s life is like.”

There is still a need for more walkers and teams to register, Stewart said, noting there are only 15 teams currently signed up, and she’s hoping to see 25. Likewise, there is about $5,000 in pledges gathered. Their goal is to raise $20,000.

The walk includes a two-, five-, and 10-km route, with most people signed up so far for the five-km leg.

The event happens Saturday, Feb. 24, beginning and ending at the Gateway of Hope shelter on the Langley Bypass, next to Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Registration starts at 4 p.m. Festivities get underway at 5 p.m., with the walk starting at 6. Hot chocolate and water stations are set up along the routes, and hotdogs, chili, and coffee will be available back at Gateway for those who participate in the walks.

“Rain or shine, it’s a go,” she said, noting it’s a family-friendly and accessible event. Organizers simply ask that people leave their dogs at home.

Funds raised from this year’s Coldest Night of the Year will be used to help the Gateway provide ongoing programs and services “to those needing them in Langleys,” Stewart said. They include emergency shelter, seasonal relief shelter, extreme weather response, transition housing, medical services, clothing and houseware assistance, food hampers, school supplies, and meals.

Registering to participate in the Coldest Night of the Year walk can be done online.

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