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Burnaby walk to end homelessness ‘blew COVID goal out of the water’

The pandemic didn't stop them from setting a record
2020-12-20 Coldest Night of the Year 2020 toques
These are toques participants will receive for taking part in the 2021 Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser. Officials are working on a way to distribute them.

Burnaby’s 5th annual Coldest Night of the Year Walk for the Homelessness was a smashing success raising funds for the Society to End Homelessness in Burnaby and Burnaby Community Services.

Burnaby’s Coldest Night of the Year is a super-fun, family-friendly walking fundraiser that raises money for the hungry, homeless and hurting in Burnaby.

It took place virtually this year, with people raising money and then walking between Feb. 13 and 20.

“Together we have raised over $84K which is 16% or $12K more than last year and blew Covid-goal out of the water! We had almost 1000 donors this year which is 300+ more than last year,” said the organizers in a tweet.

Like hundreds of communities across Canada, walkers raise much-needed money to assist local people most in need and living in extreme poverty. Each participant creates a team, fundraises and walks 2 or 5 km.

Statistically, the 3rd week of February is the coldest night of the year, especially for people who have to sleep outside. An estimated 90% of people who are homeless in Burnaby have one health condition, and 50% have two or more. Homelessness is a life-threatening health hazard, with the median age of death for a homeless person in BC between 40 and 49, almost half the life expectancy for the average British Columbian.

“Too many of Burnaby’s vulnerable are homeless and at high health risk,” said Carol-Ann Flanagan, executive director of the Society to End Homelessness in Burnaby. “This fundraiser enables us to continue offering an average of 120 homeless and at-risk Burnaby neighbours much needed immediate assistance such as a hot meal, clothing, transit and the opportunity to meet with outreach workers. All of which is critical as we work towards long term solutions such as shelters and affordable housing.”

“Burnaby Community Services is committed to ensuring that those individuals who are most vulnerable in our community are not rendered homeless,” said Alex Munroe, executive director for Burnaby Community Services. “We recognize and will endeavour to ensure our services will meet the changing and growing needs of our most vulnerable community members. Our latest initiative is an ID Bank which assists those in Burnaby who are low-income, homeless, or marginally housed to obtain and safely store identification.”

Sponsors for this year’s walk include lead sponsors: BC Housing, SPARC BC, Metropolis at Metrotown, Vancity Credit Union, Anthem Properties Group Ltd, Reliance Insurance, Dignity Memorial and Burnaby NOW, to name a few.