By William Dixon | Photos by Ann Kornuta
Families, volunteers and key community members congregated en masse at the Milton Sports Centre for the Coldest Night of the Year walk-a-thon on Saturday, February 25.
The national walk to raise money for homelessness is a cross-Canada event and rolls out hourly across the nation. Communities set their goal and select which organization receives the raised funds.
Milton’s goal was a sizeable $40,000, but the community came together and raised over $47,000, 118 per cent of their goal. Over 190 Miltonians came out and walked, although it was far from being the coldest night in Milton. The thermometer hovered around two degrees around five that evening. All the proceeds go directly into Milton Transitional Housing, a local effort to help at risk families and individuals.
“Everybody needs a home to be warm and safe,” said Arnold Huffman, vice chair of MTH. “People don’t see homeless people in Milton.” He expressed the need to help those in a community where their plight is almost invisible. Huffman raised the most money as an individual this year, over $2000.
Around the room, people chatted and had their team photo taken as they waited.
“I can see that the room is already getting full this early,” said Cheryl Bucknor, chair of the board for MTH. “It feels incredible! The community.
Currently, Milton Transitional Housing has nine units helping a number of people. Bucknor explains that they are aiming to have ten units by the end of 2018.
The Coldest Night of the Year walk is MTH’s biggest fundraiser of the year; the money raised goes directly into the organization’s needs. This is mainly for covering a portion of the rent, utilities and other incidentals.
As the start of the walk approached, walkers clustered together in front of the small stage to listen as speakers got up. Near the end, an emotional Donna Danielli, executive director for MTH, took to the stand and looked out over the crowd.
“Wow, just wow,” Danielli said, her voice was almost breaking. A later show of hands revealed that almost half the people there were first time walkers. “This community never fails to amaze me,” Danielli said afterwards.
After people began to file out of the Sports Centre for the walk, volunteers prepared the soups, chili and other snacks for after so that participants could warm up.