Jericho Road and Capital City Mission are teaming up for the annual Coldest Night of the Year walk, hoping to raise $125,000 for addiction and housing services in Ottawa.
Every year, hundreds of supporters leave the warmth and comfort of their homes, gather in Lowertown and walk in solidarity with those experiencing "hurt, hunger and homelessness". Deliberately walking through the cold and dark of winter's harshest month, the event means to "shine a light of welcome and inclusion" for people who have to survive the elements without shelter.
"There's a lot of people in this affluent city of Ottawa that don't have a place to go and they have to live in these elements every day," said Kevin Williams, executive director of Jericho Road, on The Sam Laprade Show with guest host Derick Fage. "They're hungry, they're homeless, and they're hurting."
"We just walk for an hour and a bit and experience what it's like to have to battle the elements just for that hour."
Part of a national series of events, the Coldest Night of the Year brings out tens of thousands of supporters across the country to raise money and awareness for critical services and charities in each community.
"It's a feeling that everybody is together," Williams said. "Whether we've experienced a substance use issue or not, we all need community."
Participants, all donning the same tuque, will walk either a two or five kilometre route around Lowertown and the Byward Market.
"My favorite part of the walk is seeing that that long line of have 250 people with the same tuque on walking through the downtown core," said Williams. "It just gives me goosebumps because it's community in action."
After the walk participants are invited warm up and enjoy a chili dinner with hot drinks and cookies.
So far the campaign has raised over $96,000 of its $150,000 goal. Donations can be made online and at the event as well.
Registration is still open. The walk begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at Patro d'Ottawa, 40 Coburg Street.
Listen to the full interview with Kevin Williams on The Sam Laprade Show below.