Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
Cory McCall, co-owner of Outdoor 76, and Becky Ramey, realtor, have volunteered to brave cold temperatures for this year’s 48-hour Cold for a Cause. McCall and Ramey will each spend 24 hours in the bucket of a crane parked at Franklin Plaza as a way to encourage citizens to drop off donations of coats, blankets, canned foods, sleeping bags, and personal hygiene items for distribution to needy families in Macon County.
“I am really thankful to be a part of this. It’s a great thing for our community,” said Ramey, who will start out in the crane bucket and then vacate it for McCall. “I’m currently on the board at CareNet, and I told them a while ago that I would do it. I was built for cold weather so I hope I will be okay. I will be there from Friday through Saturday.”
While Cold for a Cause has been in a few different locations in the past, the decision was made to hold the event in Franklin Plaza because “more traffic comes through there, plus people can pop into Burkes or Big Lots and buy what they need to donate,” said Tim Hogsed, Macon County CareNet director.
During the 48-hour-donation time for Cold for a Cause, which begins Friday, Jan. 15, at noon and ends Sunday, Jan. 17 at noon, volunteers will be available to help people with donations as they drive up. Volunteers will wear masks and hand sanitize due to COVID-19.
Annually, more than 6,000 pieces of clothing and blankets, and close to 10,000 pounds of food and personal care products are donated during the event. Cold for a Cause is one of CareNet’s most important activities that generates not only needed items but awareness of all that CareNet does for the community.
“We are grateful for whatever we get this year,” said Hogsed. “As the need goes up, God always provides for us. I would like to see more given so we can give more. We want to always make sure people are taken care of. Whatever is given stays in Macon County. People who give are helping their direct neighbors.”
This past year especially, due to the pandemic, CareNet’s services have been in greater demand, explained Hogsed. The organization fed 15,474 people in 2020 with 512,586 pounds of food, compared to 305,491 pounds of food required to feed families in 2019. Also, children, even when schooling at home, received free lunches. “And we sent backpacks on the buses and are still doing the backpack program,” said Hogsed. “Backpacks go out every Tuesday that are filled with foods that children can fix on their own.”
He added, “We’ve had to change the way we do things, but people are getting more food now than they did before. And we anticipate 2021 to continue to have great needs. We are really having a hard time getting canned goods right now, so we really need those, but also warm clothes and blankets. Instead of keeping everything here at CareNet, we are getting them to the volunteer fire departments so they can get them out to the people who need them. They are helping with the food boxes and the distribution and making it more efficient and easier for people to get items.”
Hogsed explained that so many people make Cold for a Cause a success each year.
“Joe Sanders always provides the crane and his time and we appreciate it so much. We’re going on the 12th year now.” And although many regular donors to CareNet choose to remain anonymous, Hogsed shared that many individuals and businesses, including Winding Stair Farms, Appalachian Ace Hardware, and “many more” have gone “above and beyond to make sure people are taken care of,” he said.
“It’s good to see that in a time of crisis this community always comes together.”