By Jesse Wood
Blood Sweat and Gears and Appalachian Mountain Brewery continue to do good work together.
This time around the goals is to keep folks warm in the winter. While the weather has been unseasonably mild so far, we all know winter will eventually arrive in the High Country.
On Saturday, Dec. 19, the nonprofit will present its second-annual Winter Warmer Project at Appalachian Mountain Brewery, which is hosting its third-annual Chili Cook Off, for which donations go to the Winter Warmer Project drive.
A publicly-owned company, Appalachian Mountain Brewery’s motto is “community, sustainability and philanthropy,” while Blood Sweat and Gears, the organizing nonprofit of three charity rides, supports good causes through proceeds of its events.
BSG Director Scott Nelson said that the Winter Warmer Project began after it won a reader’s poll award for the best road cycling event in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states.
“Instead of purchasing a ‘thank you’ advertisement we held a coat drive and used the money which would have gone to the ad to buy the clothing we were not able to collect,” Nelson said, adding that then BSG riders were challenged to participate in the drive.
BSG riders collected $1,200 in donations, and one rider and business owner donated 500 sets of thermals. In addition, 300 coats, 200 pairs of heavy wool socks, 100 new fleece blankets, 500 sets of thermal underwear, 100 hats and gloves were distributed to Hospitality House, Hunger and Health Coalition, Avery County Schools, and a couple of elementary schools in Watauga County.
$5,000 was donated to the Health & Hunger Coalition, and WeCan donors were challenged to match a $2,500 and they responded by donating $3,500 for a total of $6,000 raised for WeCAN, an organization run by the Hospitality House that helps community a number of ways, including utility cutoffs and fuel shortages citizens endure.
But as Nelson said, “That’s last winter.”
So far for the 2015-16 winter season, the Winter Warmer Project organizers have collected $3,200 in donations from BSG riders, 550 sets of thermal underwear and 500 LED light bulbs for WeCAN.
Now its sights are set on the Winter Warmer Project drive next Saturday, where canned food, coats, blankets, cash and “quite frankly, anything to keep someone warm,” Nelson said, will be accepted.
“We’ve been fortunate that the winter thus far has been mild, but as we all know that can change very quickly,” Nelson said. “The good news is with the warmer weather we expect to find great post Christmas sales as retailers will have a lot of inventory to move. That stretches our dollar further to buy more coats, blankets, hats, gloves, and socks.”