Sudbury joined 37 cities across the country in hosting a Santa Shuffle 5K Fun Run and 1K Elf Walk at Collège Boréal on Saturday, in support of the less fortunate in the community.
The national event was introduced locally around 11 years ago to establish the Cedar Place women and family shelter, which returned as the sole beneficiary of this year's Sudbury Santa Shuffle.
Around 300 people participated in one or both runs Dec. 7, raising more than $18,000 for repairs, furnishing and programming at Cedar Place.
Leading this group in the 5K Fun Run was Nick Lambert, who finished in first place for the first time in what would be his third year participating in the local fundraiser.
The Santa Shuffle has become an annual tradition for Lambert, who having been raised in a philanthropic family is no stranger to lending a hand to those in need.
"It's just part of our family culture," he said.
Lambert is a member of the Laurentian University cross country and track team, former Track North athlete, and competitive triathloner. He was attracted to the event for the opportunity to give back he said, and practice his sport during a time when there are not many opportunities to run competitively.
"If you're having fun and you're doing something productive, you're in a good place," said Lambert. "It's the best of both worlds."
Cedar Place is a full-time shelter that offers lodging, meals and programming for women and their children, as well as transgender individuals who identify as female. They also provide services to men and their children through partnerships with hotels and motels across the city.
"It is a chance to come in, catch your breath, and figure out where you're going to go from there ... without wondering where your child will sleep, (or) where your meal's going to come from," said Captain Deb VanderHeyden, co-executive director of Community and Family Services for the Salvation Army Sudbury.
The shelter has housed nearly 300 people since the beginning of the year and been at full-capacity since May, forcing them to turn away hundreds of individuals.
Cindy Bertolo, executive director of Cedar Place, credits this rise in attendance to an influx of migrants from cities such as Toronto and Montreal, but said that family and relationship breakdown remains the No. 1 reason people seek asylum at the shelter.
With these funds, Cedar Place will have the opportunity to repair and or purchase blinds for the bedrooms, paint and furniture, which Bertolo said undergoes a considerable amount of wear and tear.
The Salvation Army is much more visible around the holiday season thanks to the Santa Shuffle and kettle program said VanderHeyden, but this reminds donors that the non-profit organization is active and in need of support year-round.
"Money is always tight...there are always things you would like to do, (but) I think that's fair for any organization," said VanderHeyden.
"This is a way that we can come together as a community, have a little fun and generate some much-needed funds for our sheltering services."
More information on Cedar Place can be found here.