Merrittonians will once again head out into the cold this weekend to raise awareness and funds in support of those facing housing and food insecurity, as part of the Nicola Valley Food Bank (NVFB) third annual Coldest Night of the Year charity walk. 

The walk encourages participants to share their registration with family, friends, and coworkers in an effort to raise funds for the food bank, which is currently raising money to build a new facility. On Saturday, February 25, participants will gather at the food bank and set out on either a two or five kilometer walk in the cold winter air, knowing they will end their excursion with a warm meal, unlike many in the province currently facing financial hardship. 

“It’s a walk that is nationwide, put on by the Blue Sea Foundation, and across Canada it helps about 135 different charities like the food banks, shelters, and any charity that qualifies,” said NVFB Manager Derlanda Hewton when describing the event. 

“People can go on our Facebook page, there’s a link, and they can join in as a walker or a volunteer, and then they just ask family and friends to support their walk for the people that are facing homelessness, food insecurity, any financial hardship.”

The food bank’s Coldest Night of the Year event raised over $14,000 through 121 walkers amidst great turnout and high community participation. As of 6 days before the walk, the food bank has raised just 7 percent of its $20,000 goal for the 2023 event. Hewton is calling on individuals and businesses alike to participate, donate, and spread the word about the walk and the important community service it benefits. 

On February 25, participants will gather at the food bank on Quilchena Avenue to embark on their walk. Two route options are available, in two and five kilometre distances, round trip from the food bank to Century 21 and McDonalds, respectively. 

Those looking to participate in the walk must be registered, and it is suggested that they bring water, a cell phone, and wear weather appropriate clothing. Check in opens at 4:00pm, with the opening remarks and walk taking place at 5:00pm. A light meal will be served for 6:00pm. Plans are in the works for amenities such as portable toilets, Hewton said, adding the event is sure to be a great chance for community involvement. 

“I haven’t heard any negativity about this event in the past years – it is a fun community outing, and we’re just looking forward to having it grow each year,” Hewton added. 

While the food bank’s main fundraising focus is their capital campaign to secure a new facility, having outgrown their current home, they continue to seek donations of food, big and small.

“It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it helps us,” noted Hewton. 

For more information on the Coldest Night of the Year Walk, or to register as a participant, visit www.cnoy.org/location/nicolavalley. The Nicola Valley Food Bank is located at 2026 Quilchena Avenue, and can be reached at 250-378-2282.