Deena C. Bouknight
This time last year the headline read: “Cold for a Cause ends 10-year run of collecting for needy families.” Yet, the effort was picked up again just in time for the new decade. It will take place Jan. 9-12 in a vacant field near Bojangles in Franklin.
For 10 years, Patrick Jenkins spent 48 hours braving cold weather and hunkering down in the bucket of a crane and parked in front of Macon County Farm Bureau. He and Joe Sanders, owner of J.R. Sanders Company who provided the crane, came up with the event idea as a way to start a new year off by giving back to the community. The goal was to encourage citizens during the 48-hour time period to drop off donations of coats, blankets, canned foods, and personal hygiene items for Macon County CareNet to distribute to needy families.
Last January, Jenkins “retired” from bucket duty. But this year, two CareNet board members, Ben Windle of Discover Church and David Beam of First United Methodist Church, along with Tim Hogsed, CareNet’s executive director, and youth pastor of Pine Grove Baptist Church, decided to each spend 24 hours in the 2-foot by 2-foot bucket suspended 40 feet in the air.
“That was Patrick Jenkins’ ultimate goal, that others would step up and take it on,” said Hogsed. “It’s been such a big help annually to our clients in Macon County. It’s not just a CareNet thing; it’s an effort to help the people of Macon County. People just come to us for those needs and we distribute them efficiently. We are again partnering with Joe Sanders to allow us to continue for this year. We just decided to do a 72-hour event instead of a 48-hour event because so many donations came in during 48 hours.”
In the past, supporters made sure Jenkins was fed, and the Franklin police checked on him. Windle said he hopes the same happens this year for him and the other two bucket volunteers. But mostly he believes the extra day added to Cold for a Cause, as well as the prominent location of the crane in sight of Hwy. 441 Bypass/Hwy. 23, will result in even more donations.
More than 6,000 pieces of clothing and blankets, and close to 10,000 pounds of food and personal care products were donated during last year’s event. CareNet filled a 14-foot box truck three-quarters of the way with food and a 16-foot box truck two and a half times with clothing and blankets. In fact, last year’s Cold for a Cause represented 20 to 25 percent of the charitable organization’s annual intake.
Windle, entering his third year as a CareNet board member, said he supports the organization for a number of reasons. “As a father of children in public school, I realize many children are food insecure and I like knowing my children are in classrooms with other kids that are well fed and ready to learn because of CareNet. And as a citizen, I can go to bed at night knowing that CareNet is meeting needs. And as a pastor, I know that Jesus calls us to feed those who are hungry. So CareNet is an organization that allows us to partner with them to meet needs in Macon County.”
According to CareNet, 65.2 percent of students in Macon County are enrolled in free and reduced lunch; one in three children live in food insecure households; and, more than 73,000 weekend meals have been provided to children through the organization’s backpack program. The goal is to “turn those numbers back,” according to Hogsed.
He added, “We are just really thankful to Patrick Jenkins and Joe Sanders for brainstorming this and doing it the past 10 years. And we are glad to be able to continue Cold for a Cause.”
During the 72-hour-donation time for Cold for a Cause, Macon Funeral Home will have a tent set up and volunteers will be available to help people with donations as they drive up.
In December, the CareNet thrift store, also a significant source of revenue for CareNet, relocated from Palmer Street in downtown Franklin to next door to Discover Church in the Macon Center. The store is expected to reopen soon.