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Bissell Centre fundraiser sees ‘fantastic’ support Saturday

An Edmonton social agency gathered the community Saturday to raise awareness and money for the city’s most vulnerable residents.

The Coldest Night of the Year is the Bissell Centre’s first major fundraiser of 2024, and this year the centre is looking to break its $200,000 fundraising record.

Around 500 people registered to walk through the city’s core on a 2.5-kilometre loop starting at Boyle Street Plaza.

Chris Schieman of the Bissell Centre said he’s always astounded by how the community shows up for those in need.

“When I checked this morning, I think we were almost at 90% of our goal, about $175,000,” he said. “It’s the reception that we get for any of these sort of call outs … What we hear back from Edmontonians is always just fantastic.”

The money raised will go to funding the Bissell’s Community Space, where Edmontonians experiencing homelessness can get fresh clothes, access showers and eat.

It also acts as a warming space during the daytime when it’s cold out, helping prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

In 2023, Schieman said around 7,300 people accessed the Community Space. That’s up from 6,400 people the year before.

“We have never seen numbers like that before,” he added. ” As we’re seeing the need in the community become more and more complex, seeing this outpouring of support from the larger city is just so encouraging for everything that we’re trying to do.” 

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