Hosted by The Lighthouse, the first Saskatoon Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser walk offers walkers a hint of what the city’s homeless may experience on a daily basis.
“This walk is just a tiny little taste for a lot of people in Saskatoon that they don’t get to see,” Lighthouse spokeswoman DeeAnn Mercier said, adding the city's homeless often don't even have the luxury of riding the bus.
“There are those appointments that they have to make whether it’s minus 30 or not and that often may mean walking.”
The two, five or 10 kilometer walk raises money for the city’s homeless services. Since 2011, more than 60 Canadian communities have raised $2.4 million for the cause.
With howling wind chills reaching -45 C, this winter has been a challenge for the city’s homeless.
“I saw a gentleman who came in with some of the worst frostbite I’ve ever seen in my entire life, just absolutely black stubs of fingers and needed help changing his bandages. It’s just completely disturbing that people are having some of those challenges in Saskatoon,” she said.
The Lighthouse has 25 beds for women and upwards of 30 men who stay at the shelter each night but Mercier said if it came down to it, they would put mattresses in the hallways to make sure everyone had a warm place to sleep.
Mercier said just over 200 people have registered for Saturday night’s walk and they’ve surpassed their $25,000 goal by a landslide.
“We’ve broken $33,000 but I think we’ll break $35,000,” she said.
Registration for the walk gets underway at the Lighthouse at 4 p.m. and the walk begins at 5:15 p.m. Everything will wrap up back at the Lighthouse with hot drinks and chilly.