By Jodie Fletcher

FiveCAP, Inc.

BALDWIN — A total of 119 people across four counties braved the winter chill to support FiveCAP’s annual Walk for Warmth fundraiser, which took place on Feb. 21. FiveCAP was proud to announce $18,200 was raised.

“We are so pleased with the turnout this year,” said FiveCAP Executive Director Mary Trucks. “Every dollar helps. Over the years, we’ve seen the amount allocated for federal and state programs cut time and again, making fundraisers like this more important than ever.”

FiveCAP uses its Walk for Warmth fund to provide heat assistance to people who might not otherwise qualify for available government programs. The program provides emergency help to families who are low-income and have exhausted all other options.

“It’s truly a safety net we have to make sure no one falls through the cracks,” Trucks said. “It is important to have that fund in place so we can ensure everyone is getting the help they need. Emergencies don’t always come in perfect packages. Sometimes something happens and someone’s income might exceed the limit for an existing program, or they need help and funds for existing programs have already been exhausted. The unpredictability is part of it being an emergency.

“Being able to offer assistance in these circumstances is so important, and keeps us bundling up each year and walking.”

Each of the four counties in FiveCAP’s service area held their own Walk for Warmth, and all the funds raised in each county will remain in that county to help residents of that county.

The event featured a two-mile trek, for which walkers gathered pledges based on participation. There was no minimum donation to participate, and everyone was welcome to attend. A shorter route also was available so people of all abilities could participate.

“This event is always enlightening, because many of our participants are clients who have received assistance through FiveCAP and are grateful for the service we provide,” Trucks said. “Many are active community members who are driven by their natural inclination toward philanthropy. With everyone walking side-by-side, it’s a great opportunity for people to meet and talk to people outside their social circles.

“Talking to people, and really listening to what they have to say, is an eye-opening experience. Walk for Warmth is a chance for people to have these experiences with one another. Our neighbors are all dealing with their own set of challenges in life, but when we act together as a community, great things can be accomplished.”

The walk itself began at St. Ann’s Senior Services in Baldwin. From there, participants took Eighth to Oak, Oak to 10th, and travelled back to St. Ann’s where a light lunch was served.

FiveCAP accepts donations to its Walk for Warmth fund year-round. To donate, send a check with “Walk for Warmth” noted in the memo line to FiveCAP at 2476 West 44th St., Baldwin, MI 49304. To enquire about heat assistance, stop by the office or call (231) 745-4617.