Hundreds of people braved the ice-cold waters of Lake Ontario Tuesday to raise money for charity with the annual Polar Bear Dip.

In Toronto, the Polar Bear Club held its third annual dip in Sunnyside Beach to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.

Last year, the club raised about $12,000 for the organization.

"It's a great charity that puts a lot back into the community," Mike Bonneveld, co-chair of the Toronto Polar Bear Club told CTV Toronto seconds after emerging out of the water.

"Our target this year is $15,000 so hopefully we're close to that and next year hopefully $20,000."

Bonneveld was one of about 100 people who went into the water.

Sarah Hart, who took her first dip this year, said the event is a great way to get a fresh start in the new year.

"It's a bit more than I bargained for but it's a real good way to wake up on New Year's, the first day of the year," she said after emerging from the frigid water.

In Oakville, about 500 people were expected to take a dip at Coronation Park to raise money for World Vision.

The Oakville event started 23 years ago when two brothers decided to take a bone-chilling dip to raise money for the cause.

Since then, the event has grown considerably.

Since the event began in 1985, more than $350,000 has been raised to help provide developing countries with clean water.

Last year, about 400 people took the dip while 5,000 people looked on and enjoyed the live music, costumes and local personalities.

"This year we will have 500 participants ready to dive into icy water to raise funds to construct water systems for four villages in Sudan," said Trent Courage, one of the brothers who started the annual tradition.

Courage said he hopes another $40,000 will be raised in 2008 to help drill boreholds, install wells, lay water pipes and repair existing wells in four Sudanese villages.

"Access to clean drinking water should be a basic right for all children, whether they live in Sudan or in the GTA," Dave Toycen, president of World Vision Canada, said in a news release. "We are so encouraged by the hundreds of GTA residents who brave Lake Ontario to make sure Sudanese children can exercise that right."

In Ajax, an event called 'Dunk in the Ditch' raised money for the Durham Cancer Centre and a local teen in need of a wheelchair.

With a report from CTV Toronto's MairiAnna Bachynsky