Annual Walk for Warmth raises money to help keep homes warm

HEATING HELP: Marchers in the 2016 Mecosta/Osceola Walk for Warmth head out to begin their route on Saturday morning. The event raised $6,898, not counting online donations or the match money from Consumers Energy. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

HEATING HELP: Marchers in the 2016 Mecosta/Osceola Walk for Warmth head out to begin their route on Saturday morning. The event raised $6,898, not counting online donations or the match money from Consumers Energy. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

BIG RAPIDS — Dozens of marchers paraded down State Street on Saturday morning to raise awareness and funds for area residents who need help keeping their homes heated.

The Mid Michigan Community Action Agency 2016 Mecosta/Osceola Walk for Warmth raised $6,898 not including online donations or the match dollars from Consumers Energy. About 75 people participated in the event.

“We’re excited to have people come out and I think we have a good group walking,” said Jill Sutton, MMCAA executive director. “This is our 25th year and each year we get a little bigger and better.”

SATURDAY STROLL: About 75 area residents took part in the 2016 Mecosta/Osceola Walk for Warmth on Saturday. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

SATURDAY STROLL: About 75 area residents took part in the 2016 Mecosta/Osceola Walk for Warmth on Saturday. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

Consumers Energy, which partners with MMCAA and matches the proceeds of Walk for Warmth, had fewer representatives on hand to walk than planned because several employees were out working to restore power outages caused by the windstorm Friday night.

“One in five Michiganders struggles with keeping the lights on and paying the heat bill during the winter months,” said Eric Gustad, Consumers public affairs area manager.

The event is the first of three to raise money for the agency, but the proceeds of this event only benefit residents of Mecosta and Osceola counties. Locally, MMCAA helped 32 people stay warm last year, in part due to Walk for Warmth donations.

“These funds help us with families who aren’t eligible to receive help from our grant monies, which come with income restrictions,” Sutton said. “Everybody deserves to be warm.”

ENTERTAINMENT: Before heading outdoors to begin the route, participants a the 2016 Mecosta/Osceola Walk for Warmth were entertained by the music of Josh Olszewski. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

ENTERTAINMENT: Before heading outdoors to begin the route, participants a the 2016 Mecosta/Osceola Walk for Warmth were entertained by the music of Josh Olszewski. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

Helping others was the driving force for several walkers on Saturday.

“I’m here to walk for area people who can’t and are cold,” said Elizabeth Lawrence, who has participated in several Walk for Warmth events. “It’s good exercise and for a good cause.”

Daria Lindquist, 14, and Sophia Bianchi, 12, joined a group from their church, St. Philip Neri of Reed City, to participate.

“I’m walking to support other people,” Bianchi said. “Because helping other people is good — it’s what Jesus said in the Bible, to treat others as you want to be treated. If you were in this situation, wouldn’t you want people to help you?”

“That’s what matters most, is helping others,” agreed Lindquist.

avatar

Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

Leave a Reply