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Coldest Night event raises money, awareness

By LaShaina Blair-White  [1]

BELLEVILLE – Night Light, a drop-in centre for adults, has got a financial boost thanks to an event called the Coldest Night of the Year [2].

Last Saturday, 55 volunteers were a part of the walking fundraiser, collecting over $20,000.

The fundraiser was held by Night Light [3]. Volunteers had the option to walk two, five or 10 km. Each distance started and ended at Night Light on Front Street downtown.

The money that was raised will support the Night Light location in Belleville. Kelly Oribine, executive director of Night Light, says the money will help to keep the doors open.

“It will cover operating costs, keep the heat on and provide snacks and coffee and other stuff,” she said.

Oribine explains the walk wasn’t only to help raise money but also awareness.

“It gets people talking about people living in poverty and the services and sometimes the lack of services available to them.

“It is also an act of solidarity. People are walking down slippery sidewalks in the cold, even though they don’t have to. But they want to show the city they care about people living in poverty.”

Poverty continues to be a topic of discussion within Belleville. At a Belleville council meeting Monday, city councillors Garnet Thompson and Egerton Boyce raised the issue of the lack of homeless shelters in the Belleville area.

The closest shelters are located in Peterborough and Kingston. Locally, the Belleville Public Library and the Quinte Sport and Wellness Centre offer warm places during the day. However, there are no places for people who are cold during the night.

The Red Cross [4] provides a homeless service for those in the area. Andrew Vail, disaster management co-ordinator at the Red Cross in Belleville, says it does provide its clients with emergency lodging.

“So typically clients will be provided with a place to stay in a commercial establishment, shelter or emergency meals and transportation,” he said. “Generally we try to keep our residence here in Hastings (County), but sometimes we can’t do that.”

Vail says not all additional support services are available in the area.

“If we were to house them in Hastings-Quinte and they needed additional support, we wouldn’t have the additional support they needed. So sometimes we will connect them to a shelter in Peterborough or Kingston,” Vail said.