With prices skyrocketing, more Vernon residents are struggling to put food on the table.
As a result, they are turning to the Upper Room Mission for nourishment.
“We are seeing more working poor and seniors,” said Lisa Anderson, director of resource development.
But while URM staff and volunteers are happy to help those in need, the demand is placing significant financial pressure on the non-profit agency.
That’s why the fourth annual Coldest Night of the Year walk Saturday, Feb. 20 will raise funds for the mission’s 2016 food budget.
The target is to raise $30,000.
“We’re going to beat the goal all together,” said Akbal Mund, Vernon mayor and the campaign’s honourary chairperson.
“I really believe the community will come out and support this.”
In 2015, URM served more than 78,000 hot meals, or about 300 to 350 meals a day.
It’s expected 20 teams (150 individuals) will take part in the Coldest Night, with participants walking for five or 10 kilometres through the community.
The event will start at the mission, and Vernon Alliance Church’s Arbour on 27th Street is the rest-stop before participants head back to the mission.
The walk signifies a typical night for the homeless.
“They need to keep warm so they continuously walk at night and there’s not many places for them to stay if they don’t have a sleeping bag or a tarp,” said Anderson.
One of the teams is called Brothers and Sisters in Remembrance.
“We’re walking to remember all of our loved ones we have lost on the street to homelessness and addiction,” said Linda Price, team captain.
The event sponsors are Okanagan Restoration Services and Sun FM.
“It’s a very important event for our community,” said Kevin Rothwell, with Okanagan Restoration Services.
Also involved is the Vernon Lions Club, which serves chili to participants at the end of the walk.
“The mission is one of the signature groups we support,” said Lorne Elward, with the Lions.
To sign up for the Coldest Night of the Year or for information, go to www.coldestnightoftheyear.org/location/vernon or call 250-549-1231 ext. 29.