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Photo courtesy of Sherry Mendoza / Registration for the Walk for Warmth begins 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 at the Union County Senior Center. The goal is to raise $10,000 and there are multiple ways the community can get involved, in addition to walking and running.
January 29, 2016
LA GRANDE, Ore. (EOU) – A significant effort to generate nonrestrictive funding for families experiencing home heating emergencies will be launched in February.
The 8th annual Union County Walk for Warmth is set for Saturday, Feb. 13 and all indications are that money raised this year is needed now more than ever.
Participants put their feet to the pavement in one, two and three mile walks or a six-mile run. Registration begins 10:30 a.m. at the Union County Senior Center at 1504 Albany Street. Walkers and runners are welcome anytime between 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and a group walk starts at 11 a.m. Indoor walking in the senior center is also encouraged.
Complimentary hot lunch will be provided beginning at 11:30 a.m. with live music by MaryAnn Zimmermann. A silent auction and raffle drawings will also be held throughout the morning.
Members of the Mission for Environmental and Social Awareness Club (MESA) at Eastern Oregon University are key organizers of the event and students are busy selling tickets for the raffle. Just 200 are available for $5 each.
Rosemary Powers, professor of sociology, is the MESA club adviser.
“Poverty in our area is really overwhelming,” Powers said. She and Candi Nielsen, club president, point to evidence from conversations they’ve had with Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, Inc. and other outreach organizations including churches, which Nielsen said are seeing a huge increase in need.
The goal is to raise $10,000 and there are multiple ways to contribute: gathering pledges for the walk, becoming a sponsor or donating items for the raffle to be awarded as prizes for walkers. Contributions of non-perishable food items are also being accepted, with 10 percent of total donations generated going to the “Eating is Heating” campaign.
MESA has been involved with the event since it started in 2009. This year, students in Powers’ Sociology and Families class are also assisting as part of a service-learning project.
“The goal is to have fun while earning money for families in need,” Nielsen said. “Students are part of this community, too, so learning to give back is important.”
Nielsen noted students could also benefit from the funds raised, as she did when her husband lost his job and subsequently her family’s sole source of income while she attended school fulltime. Their electric bills lagged behind and the utility company eventually shut off their power. Nielsen contacted Community Connection for help.
“We found out our income for the last 30 days was just $120 over the limit, but it might as well have been $120,000, because we didn’t qualify,” Nielsen said.
The Oregon Housing and Community Services Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) sets the income requirements for providing monetary assistance to qualified renters and homeowners. There are gaps in the coverage tiers where Walk for Warmth steps in.
Funds raised by the event are placed in an account that is more flexible, but still managed by Community Connection. After re-evaluation, Nielsen qualified for a $300 voucher – enough to get the electricity turned back on and cover the associated fees. It made a world of difference to her and her family.
The money can also be used for other heating emergencies like replacing a broken water heater or purchasing firewood.
“This short walk/run in the winter cold reminds us of how much we may take warm homes for granted,” Powers said. “We invite individuals, clubs, church groups and businesses to join us as we ‘move our feet to give others heat.’”
Registration information and pledge forms are available at unioncountyw4w.wordpress.com.
Questions may also be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find Union County Walk for Warmth on Facebook: facebook.com/UnionCountyWalkForWarmth.
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