jenkinsBrittney Burns – Staff Writer

Each year like clockwork for the past seven years, Macon County resident Patrick Jenkins prepares to climb into a box that is then lifted by a crane high above the Farm Bureau office he works at on the Highlands Road to raise awareness for the needs in the community. Jenkins’ Cold for a Cause event has become an annual community charity event that collects thousands of desperately needed canned foods, coats and blankets for those in need in Macon County.

“The event is very much worth it,” said Jenkins. “The need to help those families in need seems to keep increasing. As long as there is a need and the community seems to have a continued support of the event, I will keep on standing in the box waving at the cars passing by.”

Beginning Friday at noon, Jenkins will get into a box that he built to be fitted to a crane, donated by Sanders Crane, and will brave the elements for 48 hours while members of the community donate the needed items.

“We are so very grateful for Patrick and his dedication to do the Cold for a Cause event each year,” said Don Capaforte, executive director of Macon County Care Network, which receives the donations collected during the event. “So many times we hear about or see tragedies on the news happening in distant places and want to help. Patrick and this event help us to remember that there are people going through tragic situations right here in Macon County that need our attention and help as well. We are very thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Macon County with the items collected during this event. Thank you Patrick. God bless you and those who participate this weekend.”

Jenkins doesn’t just hop in the crane the day of the event. The weeks leading up to the annual Cold for a Cause event, he begins preparation for whatever weather and temperatures he may face.

“It may sound a little odd, but I start acclimatizing my body to the cold weeks before the event, by not wearing warm clothing on cold days, drinking lots of orange juice and taking vitamins, pulling all my winter gear together to have on hand,” said Jenkins. “I usually take more gear than I need for the weekend. However, it is kind of like being on a deserted island… you never know what you will need at any given time and it is just me up there in the box. Therefore, if I think I might need it, I take it.”

While one might think a milder weekend of weather would be ideal, Jenkins hopes for the worst of conditions, and with snow in the forecast this weekend, he may just get his wish.

“My wish is that the weather be as cold as possible on me for the event,” said Jenkins. “We have to remember that I am only putting myself out in the cold for 48 hours. Some people live with these conditions and very little food on a daily basis. As everyone has told me over the years, I seem to always bring the cold weather into town during the event. Well, for whatever reason… we have had a mild winter thus far. As of right now the weather is showing a low Saturday night/morning of 12 degrees with first possible snow chance and low Sunday morning of 14 degrees. I choose the dates for the event the weekend of Thanksgiving and it is the luck of the draw as to what I am going to get. I have seen everything from 12 below zero wind-chill the first year to cold rain.”

More than just raising awareness for the needs of the community, Jenkins wanted to make sure the event had the largest impact on Macon County as a whole, which is why he chose CareNet as the organization to receive the collected donations.

“I have always strived to keep this event something that families in Macon County can come out and bring donations to help families in our own community,” said Jenkins. “That is why I chose CareNet, so all the items are distributed to families in our own county. The items stay right here. Neighbors helping neighbors.”

Each year Jenkins holds the event, more and more people participate. Jenkins said watching families make donations together is something he thinks is as important as collecting the donations.

“Over the past years I have seen more and more parents bringing their young children to the event as a way to teach them to watch out for their neighbors and pay it forward to help those in need,” said Jenkins. “We do not have the luxury of knowing what the future holds for any of us. Therefore, at the drop of a hat any of us could find ourselves walking in the same shoes as those that we are trying to help. All I am trying to do is hold an event to raise awareness to help families that are in need and provide the opportunity through the event for everyone in our community to jump on board.”

Items needed this year include canned goods, non-perishable food items, personal hygiene products, paper goods (paper towels, hand wipes, diapers) tooth paste, tooth brushes, coats and blankets and warm weather clothing.

“I want to personally thank everyone in Macon County who has participated in the event over the past years,” said Jenkins. “Without the community bringing the items and donating to the event, I would just be a man sitting up in a crane. The real praise needs to go to those who have taken the time to bring the donations.”