NETA Cares volunteered our efforts, energy, and warm smiles during the 13th Annual Hot Chocolate Run in Northampton, MA.  Proceeds from downtown Northampton 3k run and 5k walk benefited Safe Passage, an organization that promotes freedom from violence in Hampshire County. At the end of the run/walk, the participants enjoyed a mug of homemade hot chocolate at the finish line. This year marked the most successful event since its inception in 2004!

Doug, NETA Operations Specialist & NETA Care volunteer, comments:

For me, it’s truly an honor to be even a small part of the Hot Chocolate Run. It’s an amazing scene – thousands of locals getting together on a cold December morning in order to make sure that our friends and neighbors get the support that they need. I couldn’t be prouder to live in a town like this. It’s the kind of event that makes it clear that anything is possible when people put their minds to it.

What makes the hot chocolate so special?
Preparing for this day is no light work- with over 6,000 participants, nearly 500 gallons of hot cocoa is needed. To satisfy this thirst, Northampton Brewery cleans out their giant beer-brewing kettle and the event’s founders, Jen and John, wake up extra early to prepare the hot chocolate – mixing milk, cocoa, sugar and vanilla. Our Family Farms of Massachusetts graciously donated over 400 gallons of local milk to the cause and Northampton Coffee answered the call by providing hundreds of pounds high-quality cocoa and sugar along with 3 gallons of vanilla.

About Safe Passage
Safe Passage is the Hampshire County organization addressing domestic violence. Since 1977, Safe Passage has helped thousands of families achieve safety, build justice, and rebuild their lives in the wake of domestic violence.

Kelly, NETA Floor Captain & NETA Care volunteer, shared her story about the significance of her involvement with the Hot Cocoa Run:

NETA gave me an opportunity to be involved in a cause I’ve been working up the courage to be involved in for a long time. My mom was a victim of domestic violence when she was murdered by an ex-boyfriend, almost 6 years ago to the day (December 2, 2010). Being part of this event for me gave me hope – hope in giving others a chance for a better outcome. Safe Passage provides resources for people dealing with domestic violence. They provide better living situations, counseling, support groups, and legal action help. 

The organization raised over $575,000 this year. There were babies in strollers and elderly people walking with canes. People with different stories and backgrounds, all coming together for a common goal: safety. It was a heartwarming event, and I feel lucky that NETA gave me an opportunity to be part of something bigger than what I could do on my own. I look forward in being involved with Safe Passage for future projects. 

This event directly impacts the lives of women and children affected by domestic violence, assisting families for over ten years. Donations have helped provide safe shelter, legal assistance and counseling services for adults and kids. You can learn more about Safe Passage and domestic violence on their website.

To view photos from this amazing event, browse our gallery – click here!