January 1, 2016 11:16 am
Updated: January 1, 2016 7:33 pm

Hundreds participate in annual Polar Bear plunge

WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds of people arrived at Toronto’s Lake Ontario waterfront to participate in a chilly New Year’s Day tradition. Erica Vella reports.

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TORONTO – It’s a frosty tradition for many Torontonians – a cool dip in freezing Lake Ontario, all in support of Habitat for Humanity.

At noon on New Year’s Day, hundreds of people came together to take the plunge.

The annual Toronto Polar Bear Dip is in its 11th year and this year, they are hoping to raise $65,000.

Since its beginning, the dip has brought in nearly $300,000 in donations for Habitat for Humanity GTA to help build homes for low income families.

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Habitat for Humanity GTA is currently working on 47 homes across eight different build sites, 27 of which will be completed by the end of 2016.

“We know the impact is transformational,” said Habitat for Humanity GTA CEO Ene Underwood.

“We know kids do better in school, the health of the family improves and we know families do better in terms of their income and they are  building equity for their future.”

Polar Bear Dip co-founder Mike Bonneveld said the event has grown in the last 11 years with its inaugural plunge starting with only 15 people.

WATCH: Hundreds of people plunged into the icing water in Lake Ontario on New Year’s Day for the annual Polar Bear Dip.

“It was mostly friends and guys we could convince to come out the next day. The exact same spot all of us trying to get in with girlfriends watching,” Bonneveld said.

“Eleven years later we probably have 500 or 600 people going in.”

© 2016 Shaw Media

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