Blue and yellow toques could be spotted on walkers throughout Greater Napanee on Saturday as participants took part in the third annual Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) fundraiser.
The hats were handed out to participants to keep warm as they headed out on a course that looped around town, or they were free to chart their own path.
As of Monday the local event had raised over $61,000 for Morningstar Relief Mission, which shattered the original goal of $30,000 by 122 per cent.
“It’s really incredible and just really speaks to people’s generosity and drive to help,” said Lynda Carney, who helped organize the Napanee CNOY. “Even our small businesses, we have 14 small businesses and local artisans give items so that we could do walker appreciation draws for the last two and a half weeks leading up to the walk which is just so very generous and it allowed us to have so much fun together online. We were really grateful for that because in a time when we couldn’t actually come together physically as a community, it felt like we were doing something together anyways. It kind of gave us that sense of community and we were really able to show some appreciation for our walkers.”
CNOY is a family friendly walk, which aims to raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt and hunger. The walk is held in late February to help illustrate just how uncomfortable it can be living with no shelter this time of year.
In keeping with COVID-19 safety protocols, this year’s event was organized a bit differently. Participants still sought out pledges but when it came time to walk, they were encouraged to do so among their own social bubbles. In previous years the entire group met at Trinity United Church and departed all together.
After raising $43,000 in 2020, organizers set a relatively modest goal of $30,000 for this year. Carney was always optimistic though and held the personal goal raising of $50,000. By Feb. 8 they had already shattered the original goal and a few days before the walk they climbed over $50,000 and donations continue to roll in. Carney says donations have come in from 1,111 different individuals. Just over 140 people registered for the local walk, with several more family members taking part.
“Our community has always stood behind Morningstar and we’ve always felt very blessed and humbled by that,” said Carney. “I think at a time when things are exceedingly difficult for people and the response from Morningstar has had to be an extraordinary response in order to meet people’s needs, the community has had an extraordinary response to that and has just stood strong with us and helped to raise the funds that we need to continue in the way that we are. The programs that we are offering are growing, the need is growing. It’s just so exciting and humbling to have folks stand behind us. They trust us with their monetary donations to do what is right for the community.”
In three years CNOY has raised more than $140,000 in support of Morningstar Relief Mission, enabling the grassroots charity to purchase its building and to help fund the installation of a commercial kitchen. “This outpouring of generosity will do so much to help Morningstar strengthen services to those on the margins,” says Kevin Alkenbrack, executive director of Morningstar in a media release. “As needs have risen in the community, so has the size of our operation which is now countywide. As we explore new programs, the incredible support of the community brings us that much closer to making them a reality.”
Anyone looking to donate to the CNOY can still do so through March 31 by visiting www.MorningstarMission.ca.
Local CNOY organizers credited event sponsors County Butcher Shop, Ryan Satnik-Mortgage Agent, Jonathan McDonald, Mortgage Intelligence and All-Risks Insurance Brokers Napanee as well as business sponsors Marie’s Place Music Emporium, Kerr Kreations, Ellena’s, The Good Home Co., Mamma Mia Pizza, The Spa Company, Napanee Blooms, Lumberjacq, Against the Grain, Milady’s Lace, Carole and Jane Wooden Toys, Touch of Wellness, Critter Comforts and Starlet for helping them reach their goal.
Residents in Napanee were joined by nearly 25,000 people taking part in CNOY walks across Canada. The coast-to-coast effort raised more than $9.3 million in support of charities that serve people in need in communities across the country. With many donations and sponsorships still being counted, the event has well surpassed its $8 million goal.