On Jan. 5, a Zumbathon event was hosted with the goal of collecting blankets for the homeless. Women of all ages arrived at the YMCA in Bellevue with a water bottle and blanket in hand. The collected blankets were donated to the Seattle Union Gospel Mission.
In November 2014, Zumba instructor and Renton resident Cristina Herrera hosted her first Zumbathon. Herrera created the Zumba event in hopes of helping the homeless in King County.
“I remember being very cold in my own house, and that made me wonder how people living outdoors were doing,” Herrera said.
Herrera’s first Zumbathon was hosted at the Renton Community Center and they collected 35 blankets. Two years later, in 2016, Herrera hosted the event in Burien and collected 66 blankets. The Renton resident has made it a goal to collect as many blankets as possible for the Seattle Union Gospel Mission. This year, the Zumbathon event collected 48 blankets .
The Seattle Union Gospel Mission is a nonprofit organization that provides support and recovery services for homeless people in King County. The mission is a Christian-faith-based organization.
Herrera believes the Mission provides great services that help homeless people.The donated blankets will help with the Mission’s Search and Rescue team that goes out into King County each night, to hand out life-saving supplies and care to men and women living without shelter. The Search and Rescue team gives blankets, food, water and other supplies to the homeless. The team also offers an opportunity for the homeless to stay the night in a safe shelter at the Mission.
Herrera is thankful for the participants who attend her event each year.
“[They] are truly a caring, generous community,” Herrera said. “I know the Seattle Union Gospel Mission will be thrilled with the [blankets.]”
Eight Zumba instructors divided their time during the two-hour event at the YMCA. Each instructor led a routine that pumped up the women. The women danced to all types of upbeat music. First-time Zumba participant Teresa Burton said she was excited to learn the dance routines, and she believes in the altruistic aims of the event.
“I think it’s a huge piece that needs to happen,” Burton said. “It’s amazing that it’s happening within this type of community where people are taking care of themselves and other people.”