Coldest Night of the Year raises close to $78,000

March 4, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

The 4th Annual Coldest Night of the Year was a massive success, generating nearly $78,000 for the Orangeville Food Bank.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic putting a financial strain on many, the food bank actually received over $12,000 more than they did last year and almost doubled their initial target of fundraising $40,000.

The money generated by the almost 250 participants of this year’s Coldest Night of the Year will go a long way in purchasing much needed food for the roughly 775 members of the community who access it each month.

“There has been an increase in the amount of people using the food bank… and that includes seniors, as well as an increase in the number of families who indicate that employment is their primary source of income,” said Heather Hayes, executive director of the Orangeville Food Bank.

“That’s the big struggle, a lot of people have lost their jobs during the pandemic and we’re one of those first places that they land when times get really tough.”

The fundraising revenue from Coldest Night of the Year also helps to keep the lights on at the Orangeville Food Bank’s new facility, located at 3 Commerce Rd.

“In a perfect world, we would not need a building to hold food to feed people, but in order to feed people, we need the cold storage, we need the space to be able to hold the donated food and there are costs associated with that,” explained Hayes.

The facility they moved from was 3,600 square feet, while the new building has twice the footprint, totalling 7,200 square feet. The increase in size would appear to cost more, but since the food bank purchased the building outright, their mortgage payments are the same as they were paying in rent.

The new facility also has double the cold storage, a proper loading dock, commercial kitchen, room available to provide mental health services and more parking spaces.

“Our ‘shopping area’ is a whole lot bigger than it used to be, probably double what we used to have on the other side. So that’s going to mean that we are going to be able to socially distance when we have people back into the building,” Hayes noted.

Meanwhile, the Coldest Night of the Year is a major boost to the Orangeville Food Bank, as it’s their sole fundraiser for the year and helps them get through when donations are low.

Generally, donations pick up around Easter before slowing down until the later months, generally from September to December they see the largest uptick in assistance from the community.

“The food and the funds that we have raised over the winter, really do pull us through until the following fall,” said Hayes.

The food bank has expanded some of its programs to ensure seniors throughout Dufferin County have access to fresh and non-perishable food items.

With the help of the Orangeville Rotary Club, they’ve been able to deliver fresh food parcels containing milk, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as full meals, to seniors’ residences across the County.

“We really have tried to make sure that those people who are perhaps struggling the most in the pandemic or would be at most at risk, that we’re lowering their risk by

providing…that food to them, as well as making sure that the people eat healthy,” noted Hayes.  “It’s a tough piece right now, not being able to access those kinds of foods.”

Looking ahead to the warmer months, the Orangeville Food Bank has submitted applications for three summer students like they had last year.

In 2020, the summer students tended to Orangeville’s community gardens and grew 2,000 pounds of fresh produce for the people that access their services.

“We’re looking to hopefully receive that grant this year and hire the summer students so that we can do that again,” said Hayes.

She told the Citizen, overall, everyone at the food bank is very pleased with how it turned out this year, despite being a virtual event.

“We desperately missed getting together with everybody, watching the team’s walk, looking at the costumes, that kind of thing,” said Hayes.

“We’re hopeful to resume that maybe next year, but it was just a great community success of people coming together and taking care of their neighbours.”

Orangeville’s Ukuladies were one of the 47 teams who participated in the Coldest Night of The Year walk, which took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between all of the teams and roughly 250 walkers, almost $78,000 was raised for the Orangeville Food Bank.

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