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Albion Community Mural Project “Crossing the River”
Detail: 20th Annual Albion Walk for Warmth raises more than $7,000

Albion College students turned out in droves last Saturday to take part in Albion's 20th annual Walk for Warmth. The route took them down Michigan Avenue, along Superior Street and into local neighborhood before making their way back to their starting point at the First United Methodist Church's Tennant Hall.

Laura McDowell, of the Washington Gardner Elementary School's parent-teacher group, left, gives Albion Community Action Agency Director Pat West, right a check representing the $665.45 raised by students during a recent Penny War. The weather for the check presentation proved an appropriate reminder of why the Walk took place.

Cold feet will mean warm homes for some area residents following Albion's 20th annual Walk for Warmth last Saturday.
More than 150 people - community members, Albion College and high school students, and several young men from Starr Commonwealth, even Ronald McDonald - turned out to pound the pavement for pledges for the annual fund raiser.

Billed as the 20th annual Walk for Warmth, 2005 is actually the 21st year for the event. Now a fixture in several counties around the state, the Walk for Warmth originally began in the city of Albion in 1984 when Rev. Tim Kurtz of John 3:16 Ministries did Helping the Poor in 24.

Kurtz did the walk as a way to raise money and awareness regarding the problem of low income, elderly and disabled people in the community struggling to meet their high heating costs. Following his lead, the
Community Action Agency of South Central Michigan eventually took over the project and has been overseeing it as the Walk for Warmth ever since.

Last year's Walk raised approximately $9,000 but need soon exceeded those monies. This year's Walk has brought in $7,000 so far, but some pledges have yet to be turned in and money raised by McDonald's of Albion has not yet been counted.

"I was really surprised how successful it was," said Albion CAA Director Pat West. With a lot of people's money going to aid victims of December's Asian tsunami, other charities have been hard pressed to gather donations. While Albion area groups, churches and organizations have contributed to the tsunami relief efforts, local residents also turned out their pockets to help friends and neighbors here at home. In fact, earlier this year 45 teenagers and young adults raised more than $700 toward Walk for Warmth during a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day bowlathon hosted by the Albion Volunteer Service Organization at the Albion Fun Center.

Student at Washington Gardner Elementary School proved their mettle in a rescheduled Penny War to aid Walk for Warmth. Originally set for the week of February 14-18, the fund raiser had to postponed when a fire at the school caused its closure that week. When classes resumed the students held their Penny War and brought in a total of $665.45. "We picked Walk for Warmth because we knew the money would stay [here]," said Laura McDowell of Washington Gardner Elementary's parent-teacher group.

Elementary students at Harrington Elementary School also contributed, holding their annual Walk this past Monday and turning in $332.

Walkers at Saturday's event came in all shapes, sizes, ages, and backgrounds. Albion High School student Garrett Brown was there, he said "because it is important to continue what Rev. Kurtz started in
terms of helping people. It's important to give back to the community." During that first walk in 1984 Kurtz started at 9 a.m. on a Thursday and walked the streets of Albion for 24 hours carrying a sign. He
raised about $1,500 for his efforts. Kurtz said Saturday that Bob Brown, now of Starr Commonwealth, spent 16 hours with him that day. Rev. Kurtz was also on hand last Saturday. Asked about how much the fund raiser had grown since he began it over two decades ago, he responded: "I knew [then] there was an immediate need. It's just mushroomed from there."

Most of the people helped by Walk for Warmth are not on public assistance Kurtz said. It's usually the working poor. People who are working and trying to better themselves. We need to continue to work for those who are disenfranchised, but also work with those who can make decisions to correct [the problems]." As Kurtz addressed the crowd Saturday, he recalled one of the images of just over 20 years ago that inspired the original walk.

He had walked into someone's home where, "they had a big tub filled with wood in the living room. That was how this family was heating their home," he said. "Their gas had been cut off. They had no other way of getting funds. That prompted me. Something had to be done."
Also present Saturday for a brief recognition ceremony of Kurtz and other longtime Walk for Warmth supporters were: Albion Mayor William Wheaton, State Senator Mark Schauer, State Representative Mike Nofs, Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Chair Lee Schultheiss, Albion Public Schools Community Education Director Cathy Campbell, Albion Rotary Club representative David Hogberg, Thomas Hunsdorfer of Albion College, Amy Johnson of McDonalds, Stanetta Rider
of the Albion Housing Commission, and VISTA Volunteer Canduace Cloy of the Albion Volunteer Service Organization.

Steering committee members for 2005 included: Mary Ann Adkins, Canduace Cloy, Cathy Campbell, Jacquelin Crittenden, Catherine Kerley, Hilary Korstange, and Mida Moon. For more information about CAASCM's heating assistance program, contact Pat West at 517-629-9403.

From the March 5, 2005 Albion Recorder.

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AIC The Albion Community Mural Project is a part of the Calhoun County Public Art Program and is supported by the Arts & Industry Council & the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The First Presbyterian Church of Albion was the recipient of the grant, and managed the project with help from local artist Maggie LaNoue, and professional muralist Tony Hendrick.
More information about Albion Community Mural project at:


For more information about the grant visit the Arts and Industry Council web site:

For more information about Albion Michigan visit