Monday October 8, 2012

HINSDALE, N.H. -- Martin Leggott took his weekly hike up Mt. Wantastiquet Saturday morning.

But the Brattleboro resident was doing more than getting in some training for ski season.

"It’s for a great cause," Leggott said.

He was one of many who arrived at Wantastiquet Saturday to raise money for Brattleboro’s Morningside Shelter, which provides housing, referrals and other services for the homeless.

It was the second year for what shelter administrators call the "Hike for the Homeless."

"It was such a success (in 2011), we said we had to do it again," said Josh Davis, Morningside’s executive director.

This year proved to be even bigger success. Standing at Wantastiquet’s Mountain Road trail head less than an hour after the event began, Davis reported that the hike already had raised more than $15,000 -- $4,000 more than in 2011.

"We had a big push, actually, before 10 o’clock," he said. "People were starting to arrive at 9:30."

The hike also benefited from more than 20 sponsors, and Libby Bennett -- Morningside’s development coordinator -- had compiled a list of in-kind contributors as well.

"We have had an incredible response from the community," Bennett said. "We’ve heard from people and businesses we didn’t even contact."

Hikers were asked to raise at least $50. For teams, the suggested minimum was set at $250.


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Participants could trek to the summit of Wantastiquet or walk along the river trail at its base, and they could start anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Organizers said staggered starting times would help protect the mountain’s ecology.

Davis said the fundraiser, though relatively new, is critically important for the only year-round homeless shelter in southeastern Vermont. Morningside has 29 beds, but that does not meet the need in this area.

"We’re at capacity all the time," he said. "We have a waiting list now at about 50 people."

Davis noted that this time of year, as colder weather arrives, brings a spike in the number of people seeking shelter.

He also said there are many who, while not technically homeless, are "precariously housed" and may need assistance.

"There are also people in cars, in tents, in friends’ houses," he said. "It’s not the same as in an urban area."

A donation of $35 gives one person shelter and "comprehensive case management services for one night’s stay at Morningside, administrators said. A $100 contribution provides those same services for a family.

A donation link is available at www.morningsideshelter.org.