The 16th annual Polar Bear Jump fundraiser takes place on Dec. 3 and proceeds will go to the anonymous charity Project Saint Nicholas Returns (PSNR). Registration and waiver signing will start at Upper Deck Bar and Grill at noon. Afterward, volunteer-jumpers will take the plunge into Portage Lakes at 2 p.m.
Teams are encouraged to participate. While there is no minimum or entry fee, it is a competition and those who raise the most money win rights to the trophy. Last year, Dano’s Lakeside Pub formed a team and took home trophy despite being closed due to a fire that July. Other prizes can be won for individuals raising the most money and creative jumps or costumes.
Following each jump, women called Secret Sisters will be standing by with the jumper’s towel and shoes to wrap them in as soon as they get out of the water. Jumpers will also be given warm refreshments. As a safety precaution, jumpers are not allowed to drink or be served alcohol prior to their jump. Usually, the fire department is on hand as well.
Onlookers can also participate in fundraising by sponsoring a jumper, buying a donated shirt, or a entering a 50/50 raffle in which half of those proceeds go to the raffle winner and the other half goes to PSNR.
PSNR is a nonprofit that assists Northeast Ohio’s residents in need especially during the Christmas season. Started in 1993, the organization previously found people to assist through letters in the mail addressed to Santa. The project went online after privacy laws changed, but they continued to work anonymously, taking Matthew 6:4 from the Bible to heart.
For example, Mary knows her neighbor Cynthia is struggling to make ends meet this year. Maybe Cynthia is a single mother who just got laid off. Cynthia won’t be able to afford Christmas presents for her children. Mary wants to help so she goes onto PSNR’s website and fills out a request for Cynthia. PSNR evaluates the request and, if they can help, sends an envelope to Mary. The envelope also includes a calling card for Saint Nicholas and encourages recipients to pay the kindness forward when they can. Mary then gives the anonymous gift to Cynthia to help her through the holidays.
Last year, the Polar Bear Jump raised $23,000 with 100 percent of the proceeds going to PSNR. All funds for PSNR are earned through private donations and annual fundraisers with more than 95 percent of total donations going to the cause. In early November, the organization hosted a dinner with silent and live auctions. The theme was "Life’s a Beach" and it raised about $45,000.
The day before the Polar Bear Jump, Dec. 2, Frank’s Place on Market Street will be hosting the annual Christmas for Kids Auction starting at 9 p.m. Auction items include some donations from the Cleveland Indians and an overnight trip to Niagara Falls. All those proceeds also go to PSNR. Although there is no entry fee or reservations required, it is suggested that people arrive early due to limited space.
To sign up for the Polar Bear Jump, visit psnr.org or contact Jeannie Cargill at 330-715-9893. Jumpers under 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent.
Donations can be sent to PSNR at PO Box 36271, Canton, OH 44735. The organization prefers checks or cash so that all the money can go toward helping others instead of a percentage paid to the credit card company.