If the crowd in the Rainbow Centre Mall food court Feb. 22 is any indication, Sudbury's homeless population has a lot of people in its corner.
Participants in the city's second annual Coldest Night of the Year event gathered at the mall before heading out on a walk through the city's downtown and the Donovan.
The event raises funds and awareness of The Samaritan Centre, which provides services to the poor and homeless. Walking in the frigid winter weather is meant to simulate what it's like for someone who doesn't have a place of refuge.
Kevin Serviss, executive director of The Samaritan Centre, estimated more than 300 people took part in the walk. He expected the event would meet its $75,000 fundraising goal, up from the $50,000 raised last year.
“We're obviously pretty happy about that,” he said, adding that the turnout reveals Sudburians' spirit of generosity.
Many participants were part of groups from various organizations and businesses.
That includes Marnie Managhan and daughter Abby, 8, who were there as part of a large contingent from MacLeod Public School.
Managhan said she hopes their participation teaches her daughter there are people who are less fortunate, and the importance of helping them.
“I think it's really great to introduce children to the idea of helping their communities from a young age,” she said.
Cambrian College business professor Brian Vendramin arranged for a group of about 30 college staff, students and friends and family members to participate.
“I've been fortunate, as has my family, to have our home our whole life,” he said. “But other people, through choices not of their own, just don't have that privilege. So if we can help out, that's what we'd like to do.”
Deborah Williams was at the event with about 20 members of Trinity United Church in Lively.
She said she's visited The Samaritan Centre in the past, and said it does “great work,” although it's sad that such a service is needed in the first place.
“The more we can do to help the homeless and people that are less fortunate than we are, the better,” Williams said.
Did you know?
Roughly 600 Sudburians are homeless or at risk of homelessness.