STU students raise thousands for homelessness

Still of Tim Fox, the event director for the Coldest Night of the Year Event. Held this past February 25th, 2023 at Monsignor Boyd Family Centre. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

Tim Fox’s passion for fundraising to support homeless people is contagious, according to Erin Cunningham, a third-year social work student at St. Thomas University. 

When Fox spoke to Cunningham’s class, he was only supposed to present for 15 minutes, but he was so engaging, he kept the conversation going for an extra hour.

“I feel that excitement is contagious and passion is contagious. We all just got the bug,” she said.

Fox is the Fredericton event director for Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY). The Fredericton branch aims to support the John Howard Society of Fredericton’s programs, including the CHIMO Helpline, youth intervention services, housing services and housing-focused shelter services.

After Fox’s presentation, the social work class assembled a fundraising team on the spot. Tory Desroche took the lead as team captain. 

Julie Strang, another student from the third-year social work class, said most students signed up before class was over. 

“Then it just spiralled from there,” said Strang. “We raised like $1,000 in the first week.”

According to the scoreboard on the CNOY website, the social work team is in fifth place among other groups around Fredericton, raising $3,528.75 as of Feb. 26. 

Larger companies in Fredericton have their own fundraising teams, and although Strang does not want to diminish the value of those donations, she thinks it’s cool that “a bunch of students” could raise that much money. 

She added that there was friendly competition among team members at first.

“Now, we don’t compete because Erin has such an indisputable lead,” said Strang.

Fox, who also does communications work with the John Howard Society, said it isn’t hard to get people involved with Coldest Night of the Year.

“I think people, they either want to support you, or they’d rather not,” he said.

The fundraiser has exceeded its initial goal of $50,000. CNOY has raised $81,839 as of Feb. 26. 

People can donate on the CNOY Fredericton website until March 31, but the aim was to raise money leading up to a walk that took place on Feb. 25. 

Walking in the cold gives people an idea of what it’s like being cold for a short period of time, Fox said, so people can imagine what it’s like to sleep rough.

“It blows my mind how supportive the community has been around this cause and we really appreciate it,” said Fox.