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More than $1 million raised in 'Coldest Night of the Year' walks across Simcoe County

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Communities across the region participated in the Canada-wide fundraiser 'Coldest Night of the Year' on Saturday.

Hundreds marched throughout their community to raise money for local charities that serve those experiencing homelessness, hunger, and crisis.

According to cnoy.org, two communities finished in the top 10 for the most funds raised nationwide.

Collingwood finished sixth, surpassing their $190,000 goal in support of Home Horizon and the Barbara Weider House for youth at risk of homelessness.

Orillia finished seventh, raising more than $180,000 in support of The Lighthouse Orillia, which will fund emergency shelter beds, supportive housing units, and other shelter services.

In Barrie's walk, more than $70,000 was raised for Youth Haven, which provides youth in Simcoe County with shelter, food, counselling, and referral services.

The cold weather was appropriate for the 300-plus participants in attendance.

"This is the experience of a lot of our youth," said Lucy Gowers, Youth Haven's executive director. "When they have nowhere to go, and they're walking through the cold trying to find someplace warm, this is exactly what they will endure."

Gowers was pleased with the overwhelming support her organization received from the walk.

"There's a community behind [the youth] who care for them," she added. "They want to do whatever they can to support them on their journey to transforming their lives for the better."

Youth Haven partners, such as Jasmine Botter from Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions, were among the walkers.

"It's so important to bring all the partner organizations together," stated Botter. 

Three other communities in the Simcoe County region finished in the top 20 for most funds raised in Canada.

Gravenhurst finished 11th, Newmarket finished 13th, and Orangeville finished 19th. 

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