Amherstburg’s Coldest Night of the Year (ACNOY) returns next month thanks to The House Youth Centre.
Proceeds from the Feb. 24 event will benefit The House, as the local youth centre falls under the Coldest Night of the Year’s mandate of assisting with mental health, homelessness and hunger.
The walk itself that night will follow downtown streets similar to previous years with it starting and ending at the Amherstburg Community Hub at 320 Richmond St., where the House is located.
The House Youth Centre is over 20 per cent towards its fundraising goal of $50,000 but board member Amy Bailey said much of the donations come in during late-January and throughout February, as the event gets closer.
“We just hit $10,000 today,” program director Morghan Shearon said last Thursday afternoon.
Bondy stated Shooter’s Roadhouse is the lead sponsor of ACNOY and many other businesses are stepping up to assist as well.
All sponsorship dollars stay with The House while a percentage of donations stay in Amherstburg. Shooters will be the site of the afterparty.
Other sponsors for this year’s Amherstburg’s Coldest Night of the Year include Rivertown Dental, Team Brad Bondy, Peter Crump of Bob Pedler Realty, Unifor Local 2458, Enrote Productions, Amherstburg Community Services, Festival Tent and Party Rentals, River Livin’ Apparel, the Amherstburg Fire Association, Mo’s Goodies, Wigle’s Gourmet Meats and Lux Pic Photobooth Rentals.
The Amherstburg Firefighters Association will be on site preparing chili, Bailey said, and serving it to the walkers.
As of Saturday, there were 73 walkers and 17 teams signed up for ACNOY.
A photobooth will be added to the event this year, with the photobooth also being brought to Shooters once festivities move there.
Bailey said they want to raise awareness of The House, as “people know it’s here but sometimes they forget.” Students need to learn how to communicate with each other instead of being behind a screen and she added The House is a safe space in which to do that.
The House helps youth develop the tools to handle the stress and difficulties they often experience in their lives.
“We all have different levels of what is significant in our lives,” said Bailey. “Being here can help people have perspective and help them get through their issues.”
“A lot of people are positively impacted by The House,” added Shearon.
Bailey added they went from 8,000-square-feet at their former location on Brock St. to 1,200-square-feet now but they hope to grow and eventually need a larger space once again.
Shearon said there are 192 Coldest Night of the Year locations in Canada and it is now spreading into the United States as well.
Every Coldest Night of the Year event takes place Feb. 24. There are 2K and 5K routes in Amherstburg.
ACNOY hit $43,000 last year with $31,000 of that staying local.
The more money The House raises means the more money they can use, Shearon added.
“It’s our largest fundraiser,” added Bailey.
The only staff The House has now is Shearon’s program director position and a part-time social media staff member and Bailey stated they would like to get back to a position where they can provide more help to the community as a whole.
The House teamed with Enbridge to help shop for families in need at the holiday season and members were also helping at last Saturday’s TRUE Festival.
The ACNOY is being aided by the “So Cold Social” at G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. Feb. 15 and by a popcorn fundraiser Feb. 21-22 at the Richmond Popcorn Co.
To donate or to get more information on how to get involved with Amherstburg’s Coldest Night of the Year, visit www.cnoy.org/amherstburg or call 519-736-6811.
By Ron Giofu
Amherstburg’s Coldest Night of the Year returning Feb. 24