Why we walk for Coldest Night of the Year

Originally published on January 20, 2023
Updated January 15, 2024

Spending a night outside in Edmonton’s harsh winters can take its toll on people. In 2021, it’s estimated that 222 people experiencing houselessness in Edmonton died – many from avoidable deaths such as from exposure. That is a 70 per cent increase from the year before. Between 2021 and 2022, there were 786 reported cases of extreme frostbite, with 91 leading to amputations.  

For countless Edmontonians, there is a very real prospect that they may experience houselessness. The Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser walk through downtown gives a small glimpse into what experiencing houselessness can be like. 

This Year’s Walk for Bissell 

Our goal in 2024 is to raise upwards of $200,000, after last year’s successful walk where we raised $190,000. Walkers are coming together on February 24, 2024, for either the two or five kilometre walk through downtown Edmonton – with teams raising funds since December and continuing to raise funds until one month after the walk. 

Not only is this a fun way to bring awareness to a serious issue in our city, but you can also see directly how those funds raised make a difference to the community. This is the sixth year that Bissell Centre is taking part in Coldest Night of the Year.

The funds raised for the downtown Coldest Night of the Year walk go directly back to Bissell Centre’s programs, ensuring that our city’s most vulnerable have the services they need to live with a better quality of life.  

A History of Helping Those Experiencing Houselessness 

Coldest Night of the Year was established in 2011 when three Ontario Ministries wanted to bring attention to what folks who are experiencing houselessness need to endure over Canada’s harsh winters. They started with a goal to raise $40,000 – by the end of the walk, they had raised well over $111,000. 

This fundraiser was quickly adopted across Canada and the US, with 166 different locations hosting their own walks with funds going back to local community organizations. In 2022, more than $12 million was raised by more than 31,000 individual walkers in Canada and the US. 

You can still contribute to this amazing fundraiser. Donate to a team (or start your own!), donate to someone walking, or support us directly at Bissell Centre by donating to the Walk with Bissell team. Check out our local event site and contribute today. With your help, we can reach our $200,000 goal and continue serving those most vulnerable in our city.  

Take the 30-Day Minimalist Challenge

In 2010, two young guys from Ohio decided to quit their corporate jobs, downsize their lives, and focus on what’s most important to them.

Today, they tour the world spreading their ideas about minimalism and living a meaningful life. Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn now have multiple best-selling books, two highly successful Netflix documentaries, and a weekly podcast with guests ranging from celebrities to researchers and even members of their own families.

A Minimalist Lifestyle

As The Minimalists, these two do much more than talk about living with less. They provide valuable tools and ideas to help others find their ways of living with less. Local broadcaster Ryan Jespersen has started his journey, taking on the 30-day Minimalist Challenge and chronicling his progress on Twitter – making sure everyone knows he’s giving to Bissell Centre.

As we roll into a fresh year, countless Edmontonians are looking for their own fresh starts to a new year. And let’s be real, we all accumulated a lot of stuff over the pandemic. With the world opening again, it could be time to look at everything in our homes and refocus ourselves back to what’s most important.

The Minimalist Challenge

Jespersen isn’t the first locally-recognized name to chronicle this adventure in the Minimalist Challenge. The Edmonton Journal’s Fish Griwkowsky shared his experiences in the newspaper back in 2016 – clearing out a myriad of science-fiction novels, vintage action figures, and more!

How this month-long game works is simple: on the first day of the month, find one thing to let go of; on day two, find two things; and so on, and so on. By the end of the month, that’s close to 500 individual items to be let go.

And this is just one idea the two influencers devised. There’s also the packing party, where you pack up everything you own like you’re moving and only unpack the items you use. After three weeks, you start to see how little you need in your day-to-day. They also have a series of “rules,” which really are more like guidelines and can always shift depending on individual need.

Don’t Forget Bissell Centre as you downsize

Bissell Centre accepts donations of all kinds at both of our Thrift Shop locations, from books to clothes, kitchenware, unused toiletries and undergarments, winter clothing, and more! So, if you decide to take this plunge in trying to live with less, be sure to keep us in mind as a place where all these things can be put to good use and help those who need it most.

Share with us your own downsizing journey! Is there anything in your home you decided to minimize? What do you donate most often to organizations like Bissell Centre? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to leave your thoughts. Let’s keep the Minimalist Challenge and the conversation going!

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