The people walking by David McKinney at Wray’s Family IGA probably have warm homes to go back to when they finish shopping.
McKinney, on the other hand, has slept since Thursday night in a reinforced refrigerator box sitting in front of the store at 56th and Summitview avenues.
He’s doing it to make a point: The less fortunate among us — including the homeless and nearly homeless — need our help.
This is McKinney’s third year conducting the Operation T.I.N.C.U.P. fundraiser, which benefits the Salvation Army and the Union Gospel Mission. The acronym stands for Those In Need, Can You Pitch In?
The fundraiser puts McKinney in the cold for 100 hours, from Thursday morning to 1:04 p.m. Monday. The idea was started by Dale Carpenter, a Yakima man known for championing a variety of good causes.
On Saturday, snow started falling as McKinney took in donations of cash, food and clothing.
“I think it tugs at their heartstrings a little when it’s miserable,” he said.
In 1990, Carpenter encouraged disc jockeys at the radio station he managed to spend time in the cold to bring publicity to the plight of the needy.
“I just felt like people would have a better mental connection and a better heart connection to the person living there, the colder it got,” Carpenter said.
Before McKinney took over, Carpenter had spent his own time in the cold for five of the years since the event started. Carpenter said he chose McKinney to carry on the tradition because the Yakima man had the necessary passion.
McKinney volunteers for a variety of organizations, including serving on the Union Gospel Mission board, but he said the T.I.N.C.U.P. fundraiser is different because it’s a hands-on opportunity to make a difference.
He’s hoping to beat last year’s collection of $11,000 cash and 3.5 tons of food and other items, such as new or gently used toys, clothing and blankets.
The donations will improve lives, he said.
“It’s not just for people who are homeless — it’s for people who need our help,” he said.