Annual Walk for Warmth Draws Many

Sunday, March 6, 2011
Meriden Patch
Meriden, CT

It was community helping community in downtown Meriden Saturday.

About 250 people came out for New Opportunities' 21st annual Walk for Warmth festivities Saturday – one of the biggest showings in event history, according to the organizers.

The event included a 2-mile charity walk at 10 a.m. and afterwards a festival at First Congregational Church downtown, which included kids' activities, food, and an auction of items donated from local businesses. All proceeds from the events were slated for New Opportunities' fuel assistance programs, which pay portions of heating bills or deliver oil to heat homes for those in need.

“We do get grant funding for people in need...but sometimes people make just $5 over the limit (which disqualifies them from government help)." said Dona Ditrio of New Opportunities. Donations go to those who aren't covered by grants but still have trouble paying their heating bills.

Larry Elliott, who heads the heating assistance program at the organization, said the donation totals couldn't be tabulated until the event had ended, but he thought this year's festivities could raise about $20,000 - $22,000. Last year the organization made about $15,000 from the event, by Elliott's count.

Some attributed the increase in participants to Saturday's warm weather. Those at the event included city and state officials, New Opportunities clients, and people from throughout the area. Denise Olivo, a case manager in New Opportunities' Meriden office said she thought it could be due an uptick in clients in need.

"With the economy, there's a lot more people in for services," she said, explaining that more people coming in means more people heard about the event and told others. Ten-year-old Matthew Barr is one of those people who heard about the event second-hand and wanted to help. He donated $10 to the event out of his own pocket, his father David said.

When asked why, Matthew Barr said, "because my mom gets help from New Opportunities."

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