Pictured are participants in the 2017 walk for Coldest Night of the Year. (File photo)

Pictured are participants in the 2017 walk for Coldest Night of the Year. (File photo)

Kelowna’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser walk goes virtual

The walk’s organizers are encouraging people to stick with their family bubbles

Metro Community will host the Coldest Night of the Year in Kelowna for the sixth year, but due to the pandemic the event this year will go virtual.

Usually, participants come together at a warm-up party at Sandhill Wines to kick off the walk.

This year, there won’t be a community event to start off the night.

“What we’re having to do this year due to COVID is to promote it as a virtual walk,” Metro Community executive pastor Jeff Simla said.

This year’s format focuses on people walking with their family bubbles as per provincial health guidelines.

Simla said participants can walk in their neighbourhoods or other locations throughout the city.

The biggest piece this year is to stay connected through social media so people don’t feel they’re walking alone.

Not being able to gather together and not feel each other’s energy may be a downside, but Simla said going virtual this year has actually allowed them to expand their reach, proving that we don’t need a big kick-off to feel a sense of community and purpose.

“People who have moved away and who had a connection with Metro Community and who still want to support us through this event, they’re putting together teams where they live now,” he said.

“We have a couple who were involved with Metro and they moved away at the end of last year.

“They’ve put together a team in Victoria, walking for Metro and those proceeds will help the community here.

“We can reach out to friends and family now and say ‘you can be a part of this, but you don’t have to come out to Kelowna to do this.’”

He said another positive that’s come out of being unable to gather for the big night is that people who don’t necessarily want or have the time to walk can just donate directly to the cause.

They’re now halfway through their fundraising goal and Simla said they’re hopeful they’ll finish strong.

Funds raised through the walk will go towards Metro’s hygiene centre that will be available for Kelowna locals experiencing homelessness, as well as other services such as case management and counselling services.

Kelowna’s Coldest Night of the Year takes place Saturday, Feb. 20.