By MICHELLE FIRESTONE
Chronicle Staff Writer
WILLIMANTIC â€” The Windham Area Interfaith Ministry is looking for increased support for the 25th annual Walk for Warmth in light of an Oct. 21 WAIM fundraiser that was canceled.
The wine-tasting fundraiser, â€śHarvest for Hope,â€ť was canceled due to an explosion that occurred at the Spring Hill Inn in Mansfield, where the event was being held, 15 minutes before it was to start.
Walk for Warmth will begin at Temple Bnai Israel on Jackson Street in Willimantic on Sunday.
Registration starts at 1 p.m., an optional interfaith service will start at 1:30 p.m. and a 2-mile walk through Willimantic starts at 2:15 p.m.
The event ends at about 3:15 p.m. with food, childrenâ€™s activities and socializing.
â€śWAIM supports under-resourced people in greater Windham,â€ť WAIM Executive Director Victoria Nimirowski said in a press release. â€śEvery year, hardworking, low-income individuals and families rely on our general programs to provide basic necessities and our energy assistance program to serve as a safety net to keep their utilities on in cold weather. This year, our overall fundraising is down because of the accident that canceled the wine tasting. Our energy assistance funding is also very low because we have used up last yearâ€™s funds.â€ť
The goal is $40,000 for the fundraiser, with organizers hoping to get more than 300 walkers involved.
A group of eighth-graders from Horace W. Porter School in Columbiaâ€™s Leadership Club are helping with the event.
The students are working on fundraising strategies within their school and in the community.
They plan to give presentations about the fundraiser in kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms before the event.
The clubâ€™s advisers are Corey Polakowski and Sandra Rijs.
â€śThe kids really paid attention when we explained there were ways they could make a difference in the world,â€ť Polakowski said in a press release. â€śThey were very excited about the Walk for Warmth because it helps other kids who live in situations where their families might have to choose between rent, food and heat.â€ť
Students from E.O. Smith High School in Mansfield are also helping with the event.
According to a press release, WAIM has distributed $727,665 in energy assistance to 6,616 people from 2,549 local families since 2007. Proceeds from the 2016 Walk for Warmth helped 406 people from 172 families access heat, hot water or electricity.
Those who are not walking but wish to donate to the fundraiser can do so on WAIMâ€™s website, www.waimct.org. Individuals and organizations who are interested in participating should contact Evelyn Solla at WAIM, 860-456-7270, Ext. 12.