After the Ksan Society announced they wouldn’t be organizing this year’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser, due to staffing shortages, four employees from Northwest Community College (NWCC) decided to step up, help out and flip some burgers.
Stationed at the corner lot at LakeIse Ave and Sparks Street, Steve Perih was manning the outdoor grill lined up with several hamburgers piled with sauteed onions and cheddar cheese. Next to him, volunteers hurried to get the table ready for their sudden afternoon rush.
“Come and get your cheeseburgers!” Steve shouts.
The fundraiser didn’t start until noon but there were already four people in line at 11:50 p.m., huddled against the cold wind and weather. Matthew Kerby, 40, said he could smell the winter barbeque from down the street.
Like a conveyer belt, Perih passes each of the twelve-dozen burgers to Jose Areekadan, 40, an associate dean at NWCC’s Prince Rupert campus. Areekadan said he drove all the way from Prince Rupert to volunteer with the afternoon fundraiser from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Despite the original cancellation, the four volunteers who organized the supplementary walk and grill have raised $1, 782 for the Ksan Society. Volunteer Christine Shauer was also there at the event and helped with planning and execution.
The Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser raises money and awareness for local charities serving hungry, homeless and hurting families and youth in 120 communities across Canada. Last year’s event raised over $10,000 for the Ksan Society.
The walk was originally scheduled for Feb. 24, 2018 but due to an automated computer system error, the Society was slated to be the sponsoring organization for a second time despite their decision to take a year away from the event.
“We saw last year’s event as a success and look forward to being involved with the fundraiser again in the future but we just don’t have the staff to do it this year,” said Amanda Bains, executive director of the Ksan Society, in a press release.
Sonja Perih is one of the team members who helped put the burger fundraiser together. She also gathered pledges for an organized replacement walk on Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. along the Millennium Trail for anyone who wants to show their support and donate.
“[The Ksan Society] had a lot on their plate this year so we decided to help,” said Sonja Perih, administrative assistant at NWCC.
All the money gathered from the pop-up burger luncheon will be given to the Society in addition to the pledges already raised for Saturday’s walk. Supplies for the barbeque were donated by NWCC, Safeway, Save-On, Tim Hortons and Totem Ford.
Corey Making, registered clinician and children’s councillor at the Ksan Society, said there’s no wrong way for people to show their support.
“I think it’s awesome to see people support other community members,” Making said. “There’s always a great demand and a great need for so many people.”
The Ksan Society has been providing programs including public education, social programs, safe shelter, food and essentials to individuals who are marginalized or otherwise disadvantaged for over 30 years in Terrace.
Allie Niemi, an insurance broker at Westland Insurance, heard about the replacement fundraiser through conversations with coworkers. She made sure to stop by, donate and grab a few burgers to go for the office.
“This needs to happen more,” Niemi said. “I don’t think many people realize how important this is, especially to small communities.”