CC Harrington

Clay Harrington

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CHAMPAIGN — Clay Harrington didn’t know much about C-U at Home before Executive Director Rob Dalhaus III approached the Vineyard Church pastor about helping with the organization that provides shelter and services to the homeless.

He quickly became enamored.

“This is brand new to me,” he said. “Getting to know (Dalhaus) and the staff has been a big eye-opener. I thought, ‘Wow, how great is it to not only partner with them, but to help boost them up so they can be seen and heard by more people.’”

Last year, Harrington and his church began brainstorming ways to raise money for today’s One Winter Night event, which raises the bulk of the funds for C-U at Home. The organization has raised its goals this year because it’s hoping to expand its shelter services, making it year-round and integrating Austin’s Place, Champaign’s women’s shelter, into its building.

Tonight, he’ll be front and center at the event.

“They’re asking me to be the host and the pastor to pray for the night and to bless the night in the opening and then to host by making sure I alert people to what’s going on, interviewing, and making people aware on social platforms to let people know what’s going on,” Harrington said. “Putting my personality and character to work, I thought, ‘Sure, let’s go.’”

New ideas are a bit of a theme of this year’s One Winter Night.

This will be the first year C-U at Home will use social media to garner support and donations the day of the event. It’s also the first year credit cards will be accepted, and they’ll also take donations by Venmo.

“We really want to hopefully excite and whet appetites in the community,” Harrington said. “I think it’s going to be a breakout year for (C-U at Home) when it comes to not only raising awareness but raising support for them so they can be positioned and poised to make more of a difference for those who are homeless and the voiceless in our community.”