Kelowna residents are donning their walking shoes this weekend to bring awareness to homelessness in the city.
The seventh annual Strides to End Homelessness takes place Saturday, March 3 at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission.
Prizes for participants are new this year, said Sonja Menyes, manager of volunteers and development officer with the Gospel Mission.
“(The event) gives people the opportunity to see the shelter and to walk with people that we serve. A lot of our guests get really involved and help clean the place up and decorate and serve and quite a few people walk with us. The purpose of the walk is to raise $45,000 to continue our programs,” she said.
Check-in is at 3 p.m., with the walk starting at 4. Each year, 200 to 250 people walk for the event.
The funds will go towards operating the Mission’s 90-bed shelter, outreach work and the women’s second stage recovery home and Menyes said they’re close to reaching their goal. As of Thursday morning, the Mission has raised 90 per cent of the funds.
“The need is always there, we have to find different ways to fundraise. The community kicks in close to $2 million a year to keep the shelter and operations running, so we get huge community support,” she said.
“I really think we have made strides (for homelessness awareness) in the last couple of years. The city’s been looking at it. We now have 24 storage sheds which means a lot. It means people have a place to put their stuff so they can get services and go to appointments, without being worried about losing their stuff.”
The Gospel Mission is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
“We’re so grateful to the community for the support, they’ve really stood behind this. We couldn’t do it without them and they’re really making a difference,” said Menyes.