© Wendy Elliott - kingscountynews.ca
John Andrew, pastor with Open Arms Street Ministry.
Sixty teams and over 400 walkers have pledged to take part in the Feb. 22 Coldest Night of the Year walk.
“This is both awesome and humbling,” says John Andrew of Open Arms. “The community support is absolutely incredible.”
He reports a 45 per cent increase in the number of teams and an 88 per cent increase in the number of walkers “and we are not done yet.”
According to Andrew, there has been a real awakening and increased community support this winter. He allowed that some of that support may have accrued from the death of Harley Lawrence.
“That would not surprise me,” he said. “We already live in that reality. I think that helps us focus and hones that resolve.”
A long, cold winter like this one is another factor.
“There is a lot of concern about the cold. We’re also getting oodles of calls about oil. Cold is expensive,” Andrew said.
“We have seen in increase in the working poor.”
The 10-year average is 40ish, he adds, but Open Arms is seeing more and more people who are over 60 or under 18.
“The prescription drug problem is a huge issue. It’s most troubling for those 18–25. They’re really in trouble if they don’t have much education or job experience. Sometimes they don’t have any values.”
The Coldest Night event, which will be held on Feb. 22, helps Open Arms carry out six programs across the Valley.
Andrew says the funds raised will help the Kings County shelter achieve the sustainability of a permanent outreach shelter.
He believes the walk, “is a great way for people to step into the shoes of those who struggle with homelessness and poverty.”
Open Arms operates two drop-in centers, Inn From The Cold, Treasure House soup kitchens, a rural food delivery program, housing options and job help programs.
Nationally, the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser is in its third year. Kentville was introduced to it last year and collected over $40,000 with 41 teams and over 300 participants. Opens Arms ranked fifth in Canada in terms of pledges.
Coldest Night of the Year is a non-competitive, five- or 10-kilometre winter walk fundraiser that supports Canadian charities who serve people who are hungry, homeless and hurting in cities across Canada.
http://coldestnightoftheyear.org/ or call Open Arms at 365-3665.