Dressed up in Santa and elf suits and other festive gear, hundreds of Sudburians gathered at Laurentian University Dec. 2 for the first in-person Salvation Army Santa Shuffle event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
People were invited to take part in either five-kilometre or one-kilometre events in support of the Cedar Place emergency shelter for women and families facing homelessness.
Race co-director Ashley Grant, who’s the program service manager at Cedar Place, said the race’s spirit is one of giving during the Christmas season.
“It’s just warmth, having everyone together,” she said. “You can see everyone’s smiling faces, and we’re going to have people wearing Santa suits, and everyone’s going to be all dressed up. It’s just so festive.”
Organizers were hoping to raise more than $5,000 through the event. Cedar Place executive director and race co-director Barbara Ridley said about 60 per cent of the shelter’s funding comes from the City of Greater Sudbury.
The rest comes from fundraisers such as the Santa Shuffle, as well as people who write the agency cheques or “legacy donations” from when people pass away.
Between its downtown shelter and another offsite shelter, Cedar Place is able to house 28 people.
“Primarily those that we serve are people like refugees, people that have lost their jobs and apartments, and people that you know, just can't afford to stay where they are because the rent has gone up so high and they are evicted,” said Ridley.
After bringing them into the shelter, “we help them secure housing, we help them to fill out applications,” do other necessary paperwork and to get furniture for their new home, she said. “There's a lot of work that goes into that,” Ridley said.
Angele Parent took part in the Santa Shuffle along with her son Caleb, 12. Both were registered in the five-kilometre event this year.
“We’ve been part of this for quite a few years, but stopped because of COVID,” she said. “But prior to that, he was doing the 1K (one-kilometre event). I think we came for four years in a row. Now it just gets that tradition going again …
“It goes to a great cause and it stays in the community, so I think it's a great thing to be a part of.”
Heidi Ulrichsen is a journalist with Sudbury.com.