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Walk for Hunger Relief event to return Oct. 11 with added precautions

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
Hundreds of people turned out for last year's Walk for Hunger Relief to help Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry fill its food pantry.

BLACK MOUNTAIN - Cheryl Wilson didn’t want to stop.

The first few weeks in March were “crazy” for the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry, Wilson says, with the nonprofit organization working with limited staff. A “minimal number” of volunteers were later allowed to assist, and Wilson looked forward to continuing the ministry’s fundraising events.

“We were crazy then, it about killed us,” said Wilson, executive director of SVCM. “But we had to keep going.”

The ministry’s Walk for Hunger Relief event will continue as planned on Oct. 11 with additional precautions. Participants will walk separately throughout Black Mountain and Swannanoa Valley, Wilson said, without the distribution of event shirts for those participating.

Participants will walk individually while collecting donations from family and friends. The ministry urges those walking to wear shirts from the event’s past and to create signs.

It will also be holding a collection center for money and non-perishable food at First Baptist Black Mountain from noon to 4 p.m.

Wilson said last year's event raised over $50,000 for the ministry’s food pantry. Of all donations, 5% is distributed to both Bounty & Soul, a Black Mountain-based nonprofit providing produce, and Food Connection, a Buncombe County-based organization providing surplus meals from restaurants and caterers.

In 2019, the ministry served food to an average 364 households and 797 people per month. Typically, the ministry allows those in need to visit the pantry directly. Now, food is prepared through shopping lists.

The ministry expects to experience an increased need for food donations as the town transitions into the fall and winter.

Wilson said the ministry had to adapt to the pandemic.

“We just knew we had to figure out a way to make it work,” Wilson said. “We had to think outside the box this year. … It just shows the needs in the community, so we just adapted the best we could.”

A potential downtown procession has been proposed to the town, Wilson says, with cars decorated by participants. 

Additional events held or supported by the ministry include Deck The Trees and the Johnny Raines Christmas Cheer Program. Deck The Trees, normally held as a public event in the Monte Vista Hotel lobby, has expanded from the hotel's lobby to downtown businesses.

As conditions continue to evolve through the end of summer, Wilson says she doesn’t expect the community to stop supporting those in need.

“When we have a need, if we put out the call, this community answers the call,” Wilson said. “It’s just really amazing how this community responds and comes together to help those less fortunate than themselves.”

Those interested in participating in the Walk for Hunger Relief may contact Wilson or the ministry for additional information.