Seven people wearing winter hats holding sign that says 'Virtual Coldest Night of the Year'

The Grind’s Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) fundraising walk was held virtually on Feb. 20, with proceeds going to The Grind Community Kitchen. The event raised $73,139, well over 100 per cent of the $55,000 goal, with donations still coming in until March 31. Getting ready for the event are (back row left to right) Matt Hutten, Neil Montgomery, Leona Haley, (front row left to right) Lindsay Hutten, Stephanie Loback, Erisen Loback, and Bonnie Harnett. (Submitted photo)

Virtual CNOY raises more than $70,000 for The Grind


Posted on Thursday March 11, 2021

Homelessness and hunger in Renfrew County does not look the same as it does in the big cities, but it is equally as devastating.

The Grind Pembroke is in place to help mitigate some of the challenges those struggling may encounter, offering a non-judgemental helping hand.

Since they are not funded by the government, they need the continued support of the community to help them with their mission, particularly now that there is more need than ever due to the global pandemic

Traditionally, The Grind hosts its Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) fundraising walk in late February. Participants would hit the downtown, walking two, five or 10 km through Pembroke’s streets.

This year, the Feb. 20 event was held virtually and walkers participated independently, but it was still a landslide success, raising $73,139 and counting for the charitable organization. Organizers were thrilled to reach 133 per cent of their original goal of $55,000.

“I think people are aware of what The Grind is doing, especially with the hard times,” said Matthew Hutten, chair of the event. “There is definitely an increase in need.

He added, however, “we weren’t expecting such success.”

The food they’ve been distributing every day through their Community Kitchen has gone up substantially, and more people are accessing their services to connect with social and mental health programs.

Between October and December 2020, 1,635 breakfasts, 3,682 lunches and 1,093 dinners were prepared. Every day, they serve between 80 and 150 people.

As the lease is closing on their downtown location, The Grind will be moving to the old Firehall in Pembroke, located at Victoria and Isabella Streets. Money collected from CNOY will go towards renovations of the building and its kitchen, and provide food for the hungry.

“The renovations are going on now and we have to be out of the downtown location by April,” said Hutten.

Residents of Renfrew County have been incredibly generous, and organizers are grateful for that generosity.

“To all the walkers, to the team captains, to everybody, thank you for all your fundraising efforts,” said Bonnie Harnett, the Grind’s Administrative Assistant. “It will go a long way.”

“The Grind has done some fabulous work helping people in need,” said Pembroke Mayor Mike LeMay at the start of the event.

“There are no grants available so The Grind has to depend on you and I and everybody out there that can afford to donate,” he added, urging people to give what they can.

Donations to Coldest Night of the Year will be accepted until March 31 at