Closeup of an older man wearing a knitted cap
March 2023

Hope in Action

Wow — you really rocked our Coldest Night walk! Whether you walked, donated or volunteered, your generosity means we can continue to support our Community Centre guests when they need help most.

In this issue, learn more about this year’s walk, see some photos from the event and check out the recipe for the tasty soup our walkers enjoyed.

Freezin’ for a reason

On Saturday, February 25, more than 700 people pulled on their toques and headed out on a chilly winter walk on the Coldest Night of the Year.

Together, they raised more than $221,000 to support programs at the Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC) that help people experiencing hurt, hunger and homelessness.

Thanks to the dedication of our walkers, donors, volunteers and sponsors, Kitchener-Waterloo ranked third for dollars raised among 182 Coldest Night event locations across Canada.

“We are incredibly grateful for everyone who gave their time and financial resources to support our programs,” said Tonya Verburg, Ray of Hope’s CEO. “As food and housing costs soar, more people are coming to the ROHCC for assistance. Because of your generosity, we’ll be able to continue helping our guests meet their basic needs while we work with partners to try to address some of the challenges our community’s social services are facing.”

Happy people wearing gray Coldest Night toquesclap their hands

Cold toes, warm hearts

The event inspired many different feelings in everyone who participated.

“It’s something bigger than yourself. It makes you feel fulfilled, helping out in the community,” said Simran, a Coldest Night volunteer. Walker Brenda described the event’s atmosphere as “overwhelmingly enthusiastic.”

Megha is Ray of Hope’s Volunteer Services Coordinator, and this was her first Coldest Night event. “Witnessing people from different age groups come together in large numbers to help raise awareness and funds for people experiencing homelessness and poverty was a heartwarming experience,” she said. “This kind of community spirit further strengthens my faith in God and the innate goodness of humanity.”

Group of happy people wearing winter coats and toques

“This is why we walk…”

One of our Coldest Night team captains shared this story: as her team passed a home on Charles Street, a man standing on the porch asked them what the event was for. When they explained that they were walking to support Ray of Hope, he smiled. “There’s a lot of people around here who wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t for Ray of Hope,” he said. “Thank you.”

“Knowing we’re making a real difference — this is why we walk,” the captain said.

There’s still time to give! You can donate to Ray of Hope’s official team (Rockin’ Rays) until March 31. Thank you!

Tonya Verburg opens her arms wide

Recognizing our top three teams and walkers

Rockin’ Rays, led by Tonya Verburg ($15,252.37)
The Grandview Glaciers, led by Kevin Deane ($12,488.00)
Lincoln Roaders, led by Davide McKee ($12,372.00)

Hilary Zorgdrager, Rockin’ Rays ($4,396.37)
Anita Araujo, YNCU Kitchener ($3,675.00)
Harold and Darlene Albrecht, Wilmot Centre Walkers ($3,275.00)

Thanks to our sponsors!

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Company, YNCU, RBC

Faith FM

All Things Tea, Starbucks, Loblaws, University of Waterloo, Martin’s Family Fruit Farm, Innovative Ink

Soup’s on!

After their walk, Coldest Night participants returned to the Community Centre to warm up with some delicious lentil soup, made using Volunteer Services Coordinator Megha’s recipe. She has shared the recipe for you to enjoy at home.

Panchratni Dal (Lentil soup)

Serves 10


Brown lentils/Masoor dal – 1/3 cup
Split black gram lentils/Split Urad dal – ½ cup
Split green gram lentils/Split Moong dal – ½ cup
Split pigeon peas/Toor dal – 1/3 cup
Split chickpeas/Channa dal – 1/3 cup
Red or white onions – 2 medium chopped
Diced tomato – 28 oz can (puree half)
Fresh ginger – 2 inches minced (Use less if desired) *
Garlic cloves – 6-7 minced*
Cooking oil – about 4-6 tbsp
Water – 12 cups for cooking
*Fresh ginger and garlic cloves can be replaced by 1 tsp of ginger garlic paste


Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Coriander/Cilantro powder – 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 2 tbsp
Paprika – 2 tbsp
Salt – 2-3 tbsp


1. Soak all the lentils for at least 12 hours. Drain the water before cooking.
2. Add all the lentils to 12 cups of water, 1½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Once the lentils start boiling, there will be white foam on the top, and this will need to be skimmed using a ladle.
3. Lower the heat and partially cover the pot. (Do not cover completely, or the water will keep boiling over.) Simmer for about 45-60 minutes, stirring intermittently until all the lentils are semi-soft. (Add more water during boiling if needed.)
4. While the lentils are boiling, in a separate pan heat oil and add cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add chopped onions. Sauté on medium heat till the onions turn medium brown (about 8-10 minutes). Add pureed tomatoes, ginger and garlic and cook until the oil starts separating. Then add all the dry spices and one teaspoon of salt. Give a quick stir for about 30 seconds and turn off the heat. (This mix can be pre-cooked and kept aside till the lentils cook in the other pot.)
5. Add the sauteed onion and tomato mix to the lentils and continue simmering for another 15-20 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Add more water if the lentils become too thick. (You can mash some of the lentils against the wall of the pot using the ladle at this stage to give the soup a thicker, creamier consistency.)

Help a neighbour in need

When you give, you make life a little easier for people in our community who are struggling with food insecurity. Thank you!

URGENT: The Marketplace food hamper program is running low on all items and the following are especially needed:

  • Cereal
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned food (meat and fish, fruit, soup, vegetables, etc.)
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Reuseable or plastic shopping bags
  • Toiletries, including toothpaste and toothbrushes, razors, shampoo/conditioner and feminine hygiene products

For more information, please contact us at: All donations are appreciated!

You can also feed hungry people through our secure donation page.



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