Life Shelter looking for community support

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It’s been 2 1/2 years since a homeless man with mental health needs started camping in front of the Life Centre Church.

Keith Hazzard stands in front of a sign promoting the Coldest Night of the Year event. It’s not too late for teams to form or for donations to be made. ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS

There was nowhere in Pictou County for him to sleep at night and that bothered Keith Hazzard, pastor of the church, his congregation and people throughout Pictou County.

Instead of just feeling bad, they did something so that people like that man would have a place to go in the future. The result was the Life Shelter, a community-supported shelter that’s open for anyone who needs a warm place to stay at night whether because of homelessness or an emergency situation.

But to continue to operate, Hazzard said they need the continued support of the community. That’s why they’re hosting the second annual Coldest Night of the Year event.

To be held on Feb. 22, it is part of the national Coldest Night of the Year campaign, a walking fundraiser that raises money for the hungry, homeless and hurting in 65 communities across Canada. There will be a 2.5 and 10km walk held that Saturday.

Last year was the first time it was held locally and they had great results. About $15,000 was raised which was a huge financial help, Hazzard said. This year they’re hoping for about $25,000, although he said it’s been a bit slow.

So far about 14 teams have registered with 60 walkers who have already raised about $5,500. They’re hoping that families, churches, service groups and businesses will decide to join and do their own part to raise some money. Their motto is: create a team, join a team or sponsor a team.

“Last year we had a surge, because not every walker is keeping track online, so we’re hoping there are more bucks out there than what we’re seeing,” Hazzard said. “We’re hoping to see a bump on some of the online donations.”

The money will go to the general operations of the shelter. This year with the support of a provincial employment program they’ve been able to have paid night staff keep the shelter open at night. But next year if they are to continue to do that, they’ll have to pay on their own.

In the past they had relied on volunteers for all the shifts, but it was hard to provide a consistency.

“The shelter has never run smoother than it has this year,” he said. “We have good people, they know their stuff and they’re doing a great job.”

He hopes with the community’s help, that will continue into the future.

If people would like to make a donation they can visit Donations will also be accepted at Target Mazda courtesy of Bruce.

Geographic location: Pictou County, Canada

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