By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – On Dec. 3, 2011, 27 local residents braved the icy waters of Lake Chauncy. Now, thanks to them, three Westborough town departments will be able to lend a helping hand to residents in need.
The event, the third annual Polar Plunge, was sponsored by “In Your Shoes” a giving circle and nonprofit group that offers assistance and support to Westborough residents. $12,000 was raised at the event this year.
On Feb. 1 the In Your Shoes board of directors presented checks to the Westborough Youth and Family Services (WYFS), the Police and the Fire Departments in a ceremony held at the Central One Federal Credit Union in Westborough.
Karen Ross, the group's vice president, as well as the Polar Plunge's chair, said the event has grown in popularity and in funds raised.
“Our first year we raised $10,000, the second, $11,000, and then this year was $12,000,” she said. “For last year's event, it wasn's that cold out but the water was freezing. One year it rained and another year the water was warmer than the air.”
“People have been great – many have done all three years,” she added. “A local pre-school, Positively Preschool, had eight teachers participate the last two years and they also really help with the fundraising. Ted's Montana Grill, Panera Bread and Starbucks all made donations, too.”
Most of the monies raised were from individual donations, although some were from matching company contributions, she said.
The top fundraiser for the 2011 plunge was Bill Goebel whose wife, Cheryl, is on the board of In Your Shoes. But Bill almost was not able to participate. As he was on his way to the event that morning, he was involved in a car accident that totaled his vehicle, Cheryl noted.
“So I decided I would take his place,” she said. “But then he was able to complete the paperwork and make it there in time to still do the plunge.”
“He knew how much this event meant and how much it would help people,” she added.
Cheryl decided to go ahead and plunge as well.
The group donated $3,000 to WYFS, and $3,000 to be split between the Police and Fire Departments.
WYFS Director John Badenhausen, Fire Chief Nick Perron and Police Chief Alan Gordon accepted the donations on behalf of their respective departments at the Feb. 1 ceremony.
Perron said the monies his department received would be used for the Ambulance Fund and to help pay for training that wasn's covered by the department's budget.
Gordon said his department would use their portion to donate to the Westborough Food Pantry and the Friends of Westborough Seniors fuel assistance fund.
“We feel that that these donations will help the most people in town,” he said.
To learn more about In Your Shoes, go to http://inyourshoeswestborough.com