"In 2004, we had the first [Polar Plunge] and raised $8,000 for the shelter," said Angie Barnette, Plant Bowen's plant services team leader. "Then we waited a few years and did it again. I believe we took in [$5,000]. It's just a great fundraiser and it's [an event] that Cartersville doesn't have.
"It was great. We had very creative people with a lot of costumes. ... We had a spectacular jump from Jay Floyd, the Cartersville High School principal. He went off the high dive in a cap and gown and he won best dive. So it was just a great day. It was free to get in and people, they challenged each other. And it's funny. Some people wade in and they get booed. You can jump off the side or jump off the diving board, whatever you want to do, and then get right back out."
During the event, judges will evaluate the jumpers, with prizes being presented to best costume, best jump and most money raised. To participate in the Polar Plunge, adults need to collect at least $100 prior to the benefit and students must raise $50.
Along with on-site registration, people can sign up for the event online at www.advochild.org or at Advocates for Children's Flowering Branch Children's Shelter Feb. 9 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Since about 56 percent of Advocates' annual $1.6 million budget is raised by the local community, benefits like the Polar Plunge are integral to the nonprofit's success.
"We hunkered down for a couple of years and didn't add new programs and didn't really even expand any services very noticeably while the needs continued to grow," said Patty Eagar, executive director for Advocates for Children, which assists area youth through the Flowering Branch Children's Shelter and by providing services that aid in the awareness, prevention and treatment of child abuse. "And we recognized that we must to do the best we can for over 2,500 children and families right here in Bartow County every year.
"Therefore we need to ramp back up and begin to grow again and provide some hope for some of these kids who've seen very little hope thus far in their lives. They are going to be the grown-ups of the community before we know it and we need them to be as well prepared for that as we can."
Along with recruiting jumpers for the Polar Plunge, Advocates for Children supporters also are gearing up for another fundraiser, "Every Child's a Star." Students in kindergarten through 12th grade are encouraged to lend their talents to support youths assisted by the Cartersville nonprofit.
Auditions for "Every Child's a Star" will be held at Expedition Church, 32 Center Road in Cartersville, on Jan. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m. and Jan. 28 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Each youth will perform a two- to three-minute audition, which can range from dancing and singing to comedic skits and magic. Participants must provide CD audio for their routines, all of which will need to be age-appropriate.
Performers will be selected for the event's six categories -- primary school, elementary school, middle school, high school, group and show choir. Along with bragging rights, each category winner and an overall victor will receive a trophy for their accomplishments.
Contestants also will be required to sell at least 10 tickets at $10 each for the talent show, which will be held March 24 at 7 p.m. at the Woodland High School Performing Arts Center in Cartersville.
For more information about Advocates or participating in its upcoming benefits, call 770-387-1143 or visit www.advochild.org.