So why should we even remotely care that the temperature is forecasted to dip to a chilly -1°C overnight on January 26th?
After all, Peterborough residents have already shivered through far more frigid temperatures so far this winter and survived.
Well, even if we don’t care, Peterborough Cares does. And not only about the well-being of Peterborough Deputy Police Chief Tim Farquharson who will be spending that night outside but, in the much bigger picture, about the many homeless who endure Mother Nature’s wintry wrath on a day-to-day, night-to-night basis.
Starting at 4 p.m. on Friday, January 26th and continuing until 4 a.m. on Saturday, January 27th, the spunk and determination that has marked Farquharson’s policing career will be clearly evident as he stands out in the cold at King and George streets in the city’s downtown core.
The goal of “Stand With Tim” is to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless, as well as raise money for three organizations that toil to ease their burden: YES Shelter for Youth and Families, Brock Mission, and The Warming Room.
Presented under the Peterborough Cares umbrella — the organization was founded several years ago by Camille Parent and has since co-ordinated a number of fundraising initiatives — Farquharson’s 12-hour street shiver is gaining more traction as it nears. A GoFundMe campaign has raised $1,246 as of January 16th.
Now organizers are hopeful Peterborough Petes fans will bring donations of basic necessity items such as soap, shampoo, and toothpaste to the Peterborough Memorial Centre for the team’s home game versus Kingston on Thursday, January 18th.
Peterborough Cares volunteers will staff a booth in the lobby where monetary donations and outdoor clothing will also be accepted. The basic necessity items are destined for “blessing bags” that will be sent on to shelters for distribution to those in need.
Also, through the generosity of Dairy Queen, Peterborough Cares has 100 tickets to Thursday’s Petes-Frontenacs game. Those are being made available to YES, Brock Mission, and The Warming Room as well as other shelters for people using their services. As well, Century Transportation is putting up a bus to get ticket users to and from the game.
Thursday’s Petes game is Bell Let’s Talk night, and Bell has donated 200 warm winter hats to be distributed to local shelters.
“This has got a little bit of a buzz starting and I’m really hoping it’s not going to be just Tim standing outside in the cold,” says Lindsay Mitchell, vice-president of Peterborough Cares and director of media and events for the organization. “I’m really hoping to see a bit of a movement start to happen.
“But we couldn’t do it without Tim. He’s really brought attention to this issue. And it’s a huge issue in Peterborough. Not a lot of people realize that. At the end of the day, he wants to make a difference. We all do.”
Mitchell adds Farquharson’s “warm and compassionate” persona, combined with his exuberance for the event, will prove to be a major driver in whatever level of success is attained.
“He’s just a regular, kind guy who wants to help out,” she says. “If more people could get involved like this, even just giving their time, it would make a huge difference.”
Mitchell stresses that while it’s hoped that monetary donations will be substantial, the raising of awareness around homelessness is the name of the game.
“Not everybody has an easy life. Thank God we have these transitional spaces for people to go to and get nutrients that they need or basic items they can’t afford to buy.”
In a statement about the event issued prior to Christmas, Parent extolled Farquharson’s commitment to the project from the get-go, saying he was “blown away by his passion”, adding “He’s a tough man and will accomplish this hands down like everything else he tackles.”
Those who think Farquharson will spend a lonely 12 hours on the street best think again. As has been the case with virtually all Peterborough Cares events — Relly On The Roof for Habitat For Humanity and Morello’s annual barbecue and car wash for leukemia and lymphoma research and support dollars — live music will be staged in a big way.
Musicians Bobby Watson and Donna McKay, Stan Hammond and The Blues Brothers, Tami J Wilde, Rick Fines, Bailien (Brent Bailey and Shea Bailey) with special guest Sam Weber, and Michael Bell will all be lending their talents to the cause when the January 26th event kicks off at around 4 p.m.
Parent has also said he’ll join Farquharson for at least part of the marathon alongside members of the organizing committee.
Also fully committed is Wild Rock Outfitters, which has supplied Farquharson with winter gear to keep him toasty — or at least close to it.
As the “Stand With Tim” event draws near, Mitchell is optimistic awareness of the issue of homelessness will grow even more, along with donations.
“This has a grassroots, small town tone to it,” she say. “I think it’s going to resonate. We have such an amazing community where everyone comes together, so I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen.”