It’s a bird ... it’s a plane ... it’s a man in a crane?
For the past three years in January local Farm Bureau agent Patrick Jenkins has spent 48 hours suspended 60 feet in the air by a crane to raise donations for CareNet. The fourth annual “Cold for a Cause” event first began in 2010 when Jenkins decided to create a venue to collect food and clothing for CareNet. Jenkins spearheaded the donation drive to bring awareness and rally support for those in need within the community.
On Friday, Jan. 18, Jenkins will once again climb into the box to complete the feat in the name of the “Cold for a Cause” donation drive. Jenkins braves the cold day and night and says that he isn't the one that should be recognized for the event’s success, but instead those who come together to make the donations are the ones who should receive all the credit.
Right before Thanksgiving without hesitation, Jenkins begins making the calls necessary and finalizing plans for the upcoming donation drive.
“Joe Sanders, owner of Sanders Crane Service and his crew have played a huge role in the event,” said Jenkins. “Joe has donated the use of his crane every year. Joe knows his cellphone will ring just before Thanksgiving of each year and it is me asking for his support. Joe and his crew have never hesitated in donating anything the event is in need of. My hat goes off to them.”
Jenkins says it is never a questions of “if” he will hold the event again, but instead, when.
“I am a huge advocate for ‘paying it forward,’” he said. “None of us should ever think that obtaining donated items as a means of survival, could never happen to us. I know without a doubt, that if my family had a drastic event take place and we were in dire need, the people of Macon County would be there to help my family. That is how we were raised and that is who we are.”
The event continues to be an important community project because of the continued increase in need for the services provided by CareNet. “The numbers of individuals/ families benefiting from the donated items has increased over the past few years that we have been holding the event,” said Jenkins. “The donations that the people of Macon County bring to the event are of great necessity to many people in our community.”
According to Jenkins, the one thing that has remained constant since the event's inception is the need for the community's help.
“The 2012 donations were over 3,000 coats/blankets and over 2,000 lbs. of food,” said Jenkins. “My personal hopes are that we at least stay at the current 3,000 plus coats/blankets and increase the canned goods, non-perishable food items etc. … to 3,000 lbs. The information that I have gathered from CareNet, is that the volume of food distributed has increased drastically.”
Jenkins reaffirms that his role in “Cold for a Cause” is simply to bring attention to the need and to give the community an opportunity to work together to help meet that need. “There are many families that are faced on a daily basis, with various struggles,” he said. “To this point in my life, I have been blessed. I just want to do my part in my community, to give back to the best of my abilities. My opinion is that we need to be there for each other in times of need. I have always had a compassion for helping people. There are many programs that help individuals around the world and those programs are much needed. However, I personally feel that we must first take care of the people in our own community and country. Then, if we have the means to do so, we can then reach out further.”
Numerous community organizations have joined Jenkins in his efforts. For the second year Franklin Young Professionals (FYP) will be volunteering their time on Saturday to help collect donations and assist in whatever capacity they are needed throughout the day. “FYP has graciously donated their time and manpower with the event to help carry items for people donating to the event,” said Jenkins. “FYP is an incredible organization that was created for young professionals that want to donate their efforts, with the hopes of seeing Macon County thrive to the best of its ability. I commend them for their efforts.”
“FYP's role is to support this great effort on behalf of Cold For A Cause and Patrick Jenkins by volunteering our time on Saturday to help folks unload and store their donations,” said Matt Bateman, member of FYP. “And to provide moral support for Patrick as he remains exposed to the elements for this extended period of time.”
Bateman explained that it is important to pitch in and help out because of the great need in the community for winter goods. "FYP strives to make the Franklin community stronger in a number of ways, but giving our time to help those in need is at the very top," he said.
Mandy Lail, FYP President, said that while they have a collection goal in mind, their main focus is to help promote community awareness and assist Jenkins in whatever way they can.
"While we have not set a specific goal as far as number of items donated, our main goal for this event is to aid Patrick in anything that he needs to make this a success," said Lail. "Last year we realized how helpful it was to have our members there to sort through the items as they were dropped off. People bring all sorts of different things, and to have them organized as you go provides great benefit by the end of the day. It’s exciting to get to see all of the wonderful things people bring and know how much it will help the people in our community."
The members of FYP are no strangers to helping CareNet, as they collect items year round for the backpack program.
"We have encouraged our members to go through their personal items and donate what they can as well as encourage their family members and friends to do so," said Lail. Since we help with the CareNet Backpack Program year around, our members are excited to know that some of these same children will be aided by these efforts at this time of year. Being able to provide assistance in multiple ways throughout the year really gives us the satisfaction of actually making a difference for some of these families right here in our own community during such a tough time."
While Jenkins organizes and conducts the event himself, he noted that Farm Bureau has supported this event 100 percent and has thankfully provided the location to hold the event. “The individuals who work at our local Farm Bureau office have tirelessly given of their personal time and efforts to help make this event as successful as possible,” he said. “Without any of them, this event would have never got off the ground. I want to personally thank all of those people for their efforts. It all boils down to local people helping local people.”