Registration is open now for the 29th annual COTS Walk on Sunday, May 6, starting from Battery Park in Burlington.
This family-friendly community event educates people about homelessness and is the largest single-day fundraiser for the Committee on Temporary Shelter, with a goal of $200,000.
The walk is part of COTS’ 35th Anniversary celebration this year, and its theme is “Gratitude” which will be symbolized by “gratitude stones” for participants to carry and use for reflection, as well as by stone cairns along the route to function as trail markers.
The stone concept was inspired in part by Gracia Lenois, a 6-year-old girl in Bellows Falls who sent COTS a shoe-boxed-sized package full of rocks – pet rocks, complete with googly eyes, and a message to bring smiles to COTS’ guests, volunteers, and staff. Burlington cartoonist Rachel Lindsay incorporated pet rocks in her design of this year’s COTS Walk t-shirt as well.
About 2,000 walkers participate in the annual event. The three-mile route begins at Battery Park, winds through downtown Burlington, visits COTS shelter, housing, and program spaces, and returns to Battery Park. A shorter route is available for families with young children. Route highlights include children’s activities, face painting, music, and free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for walkers.
There is no minimum fundraising required for participation. Those who raise at least $150 receive a t-shirt; $75 for 12 and under. Walkers also may form fundraising teams. Information and registration: visit cotsonline.org, call 864-7402, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
COTS serves about 2,400 people (including 855 children) annually and is the largest provider for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Vermont.