Donations, sponsorships and registration fees fund the utility aid program offered through Cleveland’s local SA affiliate.
“The purpose of this benefit is to raise money to help people with their electricity in emergency situations,” said Jim Welch, social services support at Cleveland’s Salvation Army.
Participants have the choice between the 5K run or the one-mile Walk for Warmth. Both cost $20 through pre-registering and $25 the day of the race. Each participant will receive a Jingle Bell Jog T-shirt. Additional short-sleeved T-shirts can be purchased for $10.
According to Welch, the 5K has been professionally measured and certified. The 5K will take place on the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway and will also be professionally timed.
“The jog was at Fletcher Park, but now it is at Tinsley Park,” Welch said. “The race will begin at Tinsley Park, go a little ways past Cooke’s and then return to Tinsley.”
Several aspects make this year’s Jingle Bell Jog bigger and better than previous years, said Welch. A new venue gives the jog a fresh face and online pre-registration offers convenience.
Trophies and medals will be given at the completion of the 5K.
“This year we are giving trophies for first through third for male and female overall, and youth (14 and under) first through third overall,” Welch said.
Medals will be given to first through third finishers in each age bracket.
A family rate is offered for the one mile Walk for Warmth. Pre-registration costs $40 while registration the day of costs $45. This package covers a family of four.
Ruthie Forgey, corps administrator for the SA of Cleveland, said the jog is becoming a holiday tradition.
“Everyone who has participated in it has really enjoyed it,” said Forgey. “It is just a good way to teach your children how to get involved in activities of care. People can do this in a way that is family oriented.”
Money raised through the jog will aid families in need of utility assistance throughout the year. The program is designed to offer aid for emergency situations only. Applicants must have a cutoff notice to be considered.
The program offers $1,500 to $3,000 a month in aid. More funds mean more aid provided.
“I do social services, and every day I hear so many sad stories. The need is great,” Welch said.
Each applicant is checked before approval is given for utility aid.
“A lot of people we help are those who just got in a tight spot,” Forgey said. “We authenticate the need and we are a part of the Charity Check system here. We can see if the person is a frequent user of social services available in the area.”
“We can then make a decision of whether this is a real need or a pattern of dependency.”
People caught in a “bad spot” are the reason for the program.
“Just the other day, I had a girl come in here with a 4-month-old baby,” Welch said. “She was crying and everything.”
He said her electricity had been cut off after she was laid off work. She had another job lined up when the notice came.
The Jingle Bell Jog is a practical, easy way for people to get involved, according to Forgey.
“Participants may not have a lot of time or resources, but they have time for a jog. It is a practical way to share the love of Christ through an event.”
“Their donations and participation in the run/walk send a message of care. It lets people know there are people behind them.”
Applicants to the program are touched when they realize the purpose of the Jingle Bell Jog.
“This is a race for care,” Forgey said.
Information on the event can be found by going to csarmy.org. A Jingle Bell Jog icon is on the lower lefthand side of the home page. The link is attached to the event’s home page. Questions will be answered by Welch by calling 423-380-8178.
Volunteers are encouraged to offer their time and cheers.
“One of the things I would like to see this year is more volunteers at the finish line to cheer on the runners,” Forgey said. “I want the ‘Hoorah!’ at the end of the run.”
Forgey suggested possibly having cheerleaders from surrounding schools, elementary through high, cheering on the runners.
Donations can be made on the website under the “Register Now” tab.