The sub-zero temperatures during a fundraising event at Surrey Civic Plaza Tuesday morning brought more awareness to the harsh weather conditions the homeless face in the winter months.
Toque Tuesday, a countrywide initiative, has communities selling toques “to raise funds and awareness for long-term solutions to homelessness,” reads Raising the Roof’s website, the charity organization which started the campaign.
In Surrey, service providers came together to host the eighth annual Toque Tuesday hockey day event.
Lead organizer (or supreme commander as he’s known at the event) Tim Baillie said the primary function of the Toque Tuesday hockey event is to raise awareness and funds for homelessness, “in such a Canadian way — playing street hockey.”
Five years ago, Baillie said, the ball hockey event moved to City Centre after holding the event at Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre for several years. Baillie said that first year, organizers got together some service providers, homeless people, firefighters and police officers.
“Then it evolved into teams and now we’ve got the inflatable rink,” he said.
This year, there were 11 games scheduled between service providers, firefighter, city staff and council.
“It’s a combination of community associations,” Baillie said. “At the start of the game when they’re warming up, they get to tell everyone who they are, what they do and why they come here and how they benefit from it.”
With donations coming in throughout the day, Baillie said it would all be distributed and in the hands of service providers before the event ended at 5 p.m.
Throughout the event, the temperature ranged from -5 degrees at the coldest to 1 degree at the warmest, according to The Weather Network.
“I’ve been doing stuff with poverty with the firefighters for a long time, and you get to know some of the people on the streets,” he said.
“Some of them are the same age as me. Now I’m in relatively good health, and I’m bundled up because it’s damn cold today, and I can’t imagine sleeping in a doorway or something like this on a day like this, but to make it even worse what if it was raining or snowing.”