ATASCADERO – The El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) held its second annual harvest festival in Turkey and raised $96,900 thanks to generous donations from members of the community, companies and an entire department of the B Loved Foundation.

The Turkish trotters, who had to flee almost this year because of the COVID 19 pandemic, fled from 15 to 29 November and asked the runners to dress for the event and have their pictures taken to raise money for the needy in the Northern District.

We were very nervous because we have the amount of budget we were expecting and we base our operational budget on what we took into account, said ECHO President Wendy Lewis. Last year it was our first, and it was pretty amazing. We didn’t know what to expect, but about 400 people came and raised about $16,000, and they had that special spirit. There is such a magical thing about going out and giving on Thanksgiving in the morning and being part of an event that supports people who have less than you.

After raising $16,000 last year, the local B Loved Fund offered to raise the same amount, bringing it to $32,000.

This year ECHO was practically forced to relocate, and as everyone was collectively affected by closures and company closures, ECHO wondered how successful its fundraising could have been without losing community trust.

In a few weeks, that trust has been rewarded.

The Virtual Turkish Trot brought together 15 local commercial sponsors who donated $25,000 to ECHO, while public donations raised $23,450 for a total of $48,450 in two weeks.

At the beginning of the fundraising, ECHO knew that the B Loved Foundation was again interested in doubling part of the funds raised, but did not think that the total amount would be reached. Instead, ECHO fortunately paid the total amount, so that the amount collected amounted to USD 96,900.

When we met on Monday, we were stunned. We picked up $48,450. It literally made me cry because it was so important, Lewis said. It couldn’t have come at a better time, because we didn’t know then that we would open a second shelter in Paso Robles; it wasn’t even visible on the radar. We also didn’t know that we would house the winter rescue center in Atasquadero. Therefore, we have accepted this additional task as an act of faith in our fellowship, and it is simply unbelievable.

The money raised through the Turkish Virtual Pavilion will contribute significantly to the costs of the ECW and could lead to an increase in the number of programmers and staff.

The 15 ECHO-sponsored companies that donated to this recognition are the B Loved Foundation, Pacific Premier Bank, Derby Wine Estates, Howard Products Inc, Don and Elaine Whitmer, San Luis Obispo County, Twin City Community Hospital, MAC Paint Solarponics, Community West Bank Speciality Construction Inc, Steve Schmidt Topsoil Inc, Atascadero 76, Gerbers Auto Services, Heart to Heart Real Estate, KSBY and Dimes Media.

For those who want to make a donation but have missed the virtual trot, donations are always welcome at www.echoshelter.org/donate.

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