In a world where jobs and food are scarce for many, one man stands tall in the name of charity.
Last Friday, as flurries floated about a nearfreezing Highlands Road, local insurance salesman Patrick Jenkins prepared himself for two days of wintry weather.
Last year, Jenkins spent 48 hours suspended 60 feet in the air by a crane. This year he repeated the feat in the name of the “Cold for a Cause” donation drive, which benefits local relief agency CareNet. The organization has more than 4,700 families on file who have used its services over the past several years.
“I’m very proud of him, very,” said Jenkins’ mother Joanie moments before her son was lifted into the bitter air. “He knows people and he loves to help people.”
Jenkins’ father C.D. Jenkins echoed Joanie’s praise. “It feels good for a father to know that his son has contributed to the welfare of some unfortunate people. It’s a good thing to know that he is doing this out of the goodness of his heart,” he said of his son. “A lot of people are suffering today.”
As final preparations were made, Jenkins stepped into his enclosed bucket, adorning the “Cold for a Cause” banner on its face. He munched on a hamburger and fries from Stamey’s Cafe as he made his ascent.
Crane operator Joe Sanders, of Sanders Crane Service, then lifted Jenkins into the air.
In no time, passing vehicles honked their horns in support of Jenkins, who waved at the passerby. “We’ll see you Sunday!” said one onlooker.
“When Patrick called me and asked me if I’d be willing to get involved in this and I said ‘yeah I’d be glad to do it.’ Of course he always picks the worst weekend of the year,” said Sanders, explaining that there are many families who can not meet their basic needs. “Anything like this where I can help, I am glad to do. My line of work is construction, so I know a lot of the people I work with are having difficulties,” he said.
For the weekend, Jenkins braved the elements in order to raise donations and awareness for families and individuals struggling to make ends meet through a cold winter and a long recession. Jenkins’ efforts yielded donations that packed a 26-foot UHaul box truck completely full as of Tuesday afternoon.
“We did good the first night,” said Jenkins, recalling the donating public on the eve of a winter storm. “The second night was colder, so I wrapped up in a few more blankets. We had a good outcome,” he said, attributing the weather to the light donations. The second night, Jenkins credited Joe Sanders and his son, Preston, for their help and use of the crane, as well as Family Auto Care for their supplying the U-Haul and Gooder Grafix for their sign work. He thanked Stamey’s Cafe and Cash’s Barbeque for offering him food.
But what kept the icy air at bay was some good ol’ java. “Main Street Coffee kept me warm with their coffee,” he added.
CareNet Director Vanessa Bailey said that though donations were somewhat slim compared to last year, the drive offered a “good sized load” which was greatly appreciated. The act of getting any donations as of late is a “revolving door”– as soon as food comes in, it goes out. This year however, more food was donated, which was the primary goal, according to both Bailey and Jenkins.
“We can’t do it without the support of the community. Especially with the weather we’ve had,” said Bailey, applauding Jenkins’ efforts. “It’s very commendable. When you look at what one individual can do and the focus that they bring it goes a long way. It starts with the individuals.”