Coldest Night of the Year

Local group seeks to top last year’s third spot in annual fundraising event.

By: Tom Rose, Staff Writer 2017’s event continues the tradition of providing participants with a CNOY-branded toque.

On February 25th, folks a mari usque ad mare will take part in Coldest Night of the Year, an annual fundraiser aiming to raise money for charities dedicated to helping the homeless. Here in Orillia, the event is organized by the local Lighthouse Soup Kitchen and Shelter, and all locally-made donations will contribute towards the yearly operating costs of the Lighthouse. What’s the score? How can you – a mere university student – help fight homelessness in your community? Well, that’s sort of the point of this article, innit? Strap on your best walking boots and read on for the dirty deets.

The Lighthouse Soup Kitchen and Shelter, formerly Lighthouse Christian Ministries, is a men’s shelter and soup kitchen operating in Orillia under various forms since 1992. Offering services as a shelter since 2000, the Peter Street location has 14 beds for “men with no place to stay”, and offers access to housing resources as well as employment and addictions counselling for its clients. Just men, you ask? What about women and children in need? The Lighthouse’s soup kitchen wing in fact feeds 30-50 people including women and children every single day. On top of that, they’ve just this past October purchased land for their new project, Building Hope. In conjunction with Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Safe Beds, and John Howard Society, Building Hope aims to establish an accessible “homeless hub that will provide shelter for men, women and families” in need, says The Lighthouse’s website. How’s that for a move to inclusivity?

So, what can you do to help? First things first – head on over to the Coldest Night of the Year website and register your team. There’s a $25 registration fee per team, which can be handily avoided by committing to raising $150 or more in pledges. Don’t feel like going through all that rigmarole? You can also join a pre-registered team, such as Lakehead’s “Social Work Students Lakehead U” which you decidedly do not have to be a Social Work student to join. In Orillia, there are three different walks to choose from, ranging from 2 to 10 km. Maps of the walks are available on the event’s website. After that, all that’s left to do is fundraise to your heart’s content and get yourself down to the starting point, Lion’s Oval Public School, on the 25th. Not only do participants get the satisfaction of a job well-done, they also get a pretty sweet hat for their troubles. Refreshments are provided courtesy of Tim Hortons and Brewery Bay, and will be served both during the walk at The Lighthouse and after the walk at Lion’s Oval.

Can’t make the big day? Donate! Donations can be made online, and as of this writing Orillia has reached 14% of their $100,000 goal.  With 34 registered teams and 99 walkers thus far, it’s hard to imagine that $100,000 taking long to reach. You’ve got more than a month to contribute in the way you think best, so get on it. There are cold hands out there, why aren’t you doing anything about it?

Information on CNOY can be found online at, and you can learn more about The Lighthouse at