Napanee’s CNOY once again surpasses $100,000 goal

Walkers stroll along Dundas Street during the annual Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser held in February. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

Walkers were just about to embark on the first steps of Napanee’s Coldest Night of the Year on Saturday when they received some uplifting breaking news.

CNOY event organizer Lynda Carney informed the 200-plus walkers gathered in the parking lot of Trinity United Church that they had surpassed their $100,000 fundraising goal for a second year in a row. That bit of news was just what participants needed as they set off on their 5 km stroll through downtown Napanee, marching to bring awareness and raise funds for those in the community experiencing homelessness. Every cent raised will go towards the Morningstar Mission.

Coldest Night of the Year organizer Lynda Carney addresses the crowd of walkers just before they depart. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

“The funds that you help raise through Coldest Night of the Year, through this walk is huge to Morningstar Mission,” said Chris Wicklam who address the crowd on behalf of the board of Morningstar. “It supports our operations and gets us through the majority of the year. It enables Kevin (Alkenbrack, Morningstar executive director), the staff, and all the volunteers to support all those who are in need with the many services that Morningstar Mission provides.”

For the last month organizers have been keeping the community up to date with their latest fundraising numbers. As the day of the walk rolled around they were still about 5 per cent of their goal. They hit their target just minutes before their 5 p.m. departure, actually climbing over $101,000 and still counting.

This year’s event lived up to its billing with a noticeable chill in the air. That served as a little extra reminder of why walkers were out there-raising funds for those who don’t always have a warm bed on a frigid winter night.

“Even Mother Nature has decided to attend this year,” joked Greater Napanee mayor Terry Richardson, who also joined in the walk. “This event started in 2011 in two locations with 440 participants raising in excess of $110,000 for charities and municipalities. Nearly 12 years later in 2023 those numbers have grown to this event taking place in 182 locations with in excess of 37,000 participants and raising well in excess of $13 million.”

Communities across Canada held their own version of Coldest Night of the Year on Feb. 24. Each one helping an organization that assists those experiencing hurting, hunger or homelessness. For Napanee that organization was Morningstar, which operates a warming centre from late November through mid April.

“(This walk) reminds the people that we serve that the community cares,” said Alkenbrack. “Sometimes it feels like to them that they’re invisible. This is proof that that’s not true.”

He shared a story of someone who came by to visit the centre on Friday.

“A mom came to see us and her son is somebody who is homeless and has really been struggling,” said Alkenbrack. “She just came to thank us that Morningstar has a warming centre for him to go to. She just wanted us to know that it matters to her and her son that there is a place for people to go.”

This year’s top fundraisers were once again the team of Stonemills RC Parishes, which brought in over $20,000. They were followed by Trinity United Church with over $6,000 and Frozen Fury, captained by Jenifer Dafoe which collected over $5,000.

This year Napanee District Secondary School got in on the act, hosting their own CNOY event on Monday.

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