More than 100 people braved the cold Saturday to get a taste of what those without heat in their homes experience every day.
Outfitted with gloves, scarves and hats, walkers met at the Mount Pleasant Housing Commission, 1 Mosher St., to kick off the third-annual “Walk for Warmth,” aiming to raise both awareness and funds in order to help heat the homes of low-income families in Gratiot, Ionia, Isabella and Montcalm counties. It was one of several walks taking place statewide.
While donations are still coming in and other events are to be held, the total for the day amounted to $1,427.90. Consumers Energy will match the total with an estimated $1,000.
Shannon Collin, EightCAP employee, has been involved with the walk for three years and has recently taken on a new position that allows her to see how the funds are put to use firsthand, usually working to distribute the money to families.
“It makes it all worth it,” Collin said. “I’ve been amazed seeing how many people are homeless or without heat and electricity, and it’s amazing to see how thankful they are.”
Mary Schneider, another EightCAP employee, has been hosting this event for years to raise funds for instances where grant money is unavailable or people are simply ineligible.
Fellow EightCAP employee Todd Furlong, said the organization intends to supplement existing funds in the face of cuts in federal funding.
In 2012, EightCAP was able to assist 222 individuals.
Partnering with EightCAP in the fight against poverty is Consumers Energy.
“For me, it’s all about helping people,” Consumers Energy employee Brenda Johnson said. “I don’t want people to be without heat, so I’ll do anything I can to help.”
Student volunteers were stationed along the downtown route, greeting walkers as they passed.
Kingsley sophomore Nicole Fisher, who comes from a small area herself and is familiar with the cause, appreciates the fact that it is a local effort where 100 percent of the proceeds goes to the community.
Senior Kierstin DeWitt of Port Huron and junior Marie Foggia of Brownstown were at the walk representing the Student Association of Nutrition.
“The walk was brought to my attention by one of our members” DeWitt said. “It seemed like a good charity to help, so we decided to volunteer.”
Walkers were invited back to warm up afterward and help judge a soup and chili cook-off, putting donations in the jars to vote for their favorite.