RAYMOND — For a mere swim in some icy cold water, participants in next month’s Polar Dip can support Feed the Need, a local initiative working to eliminate hunger in the Sebago Lakes Region.

Feed the Need is a fundraising effort established in 2012 that serves 10 Lakes Region towns and 100% of the funds raised from the Feb. 20 Polar Dip will support 13 food pantries in Casco, Gray, Limerick, Limington, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham.

The “Dippin Dummies” team jumps into Sebago Lake as part of the Polar Dip in 2018. File photo

Hosting this year’s event at Raymond Beach is the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, which has raised over $110,000 for the food pantries since the establishment of their charitable trust in 2016, according to Executive Director Robin Mullins.

Mullins said she’s looking forward to adding the Polar Dip to the chamber’s arsenal of Feed the Need fundraisers, which will boost their donation amounts.

Not only that, but the event is an opportunity “where people can gather for a common good cause,” she said.

“I miss these in-person events and look forward to safely going together to help fight food insecurity in our region,” she said.

The Polar Dip started back in 2003 as part of the Sebago Lakes Rotary Fishing Derby and for many years the Sebago Lake-Windham Area Rotary Club and Shaw’s Supermarkets co-hosted the event to benefit Maine Children’s Cancer Program at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland. About 130 participants took the plunge to raise nearly $60,000 each year, Mullins said.

But when the event fell by the wayside last year, a Windham business owner, George Bartlett of Busy Bee Laundry and Dry Cleaning, contacted Mullins about restarting it this year to benefit Feed the Need.

“George and I thought it was a perfect nonprofit for the Polar Dip that is part of the Sebago Lakes Rotary,” Mullins said.

While the glacial waters are still the same, the event will look a little different this year due to COVID-19. Jumpers will need to register ahead of the Polar Dip for a time between noon and 3 p.m. Plunging teams are limited to groups of six or fewer.

Prizes will be awarded for best costumes and largest fundraisers.

To register, go to sebagolakeschamber.com/event/polar-dip.

If participants aren’t comfortable with heading out this year (or prefer to stay warm and dry), Mullins said they can donate directly to Feed the Need at sebagolakeschamber.com/event/feed-the-need.

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