Valley walkers step out to end hunger

Margaret Hurt
Special to The Black Mountain News

The Walk for Hunger Relief, one of the Valley’s traditional ways to help others, is a day of community spirit and fun. And it’s coming up.

A benefit for the people that Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry helps, the 2 p.m. Oct. 11 event is for people of all ages and walking abilities, whether pushing a stroller, walking leisurely with a friend or getting in a fast-paced workout.

The one- or four-mile route (your choice) takes you through Black Mountain neighborhoods, the downtown commercial district and around Lake Tomahawk. For more than 10 years, hundreds have gathered for this annual event. Many churches have formed teams to fund-raise and walk together; individual are also welcomed, regardless any church affiliation. It’s one place you are sure to see someone you recognize.

This year, the ministry has set a goal of raising $30,000, higher than last year’s goal.

“We’re blessed this year with a most generous offer from a local business,” said SVCM director and event co-chair Renae Brame. “In addition to providing up to $3,000 to purchase event T-shirts for all walkers, Gentry Heating and Cooling is matching dollar for dollar all business sponsorships.

“Thanks to our many generous business sponsors, we are close to halfway towards our goal. Our churches and individuals will hopefully bring in the remaining funds to help us meet the total goal,” said Bill Walker, co-chair. This is the first time a joint T-shirt and matching business donor has been secured.

Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. on the grounds of First Baptist Church in Black Mountain; the walk begins half an hour later. Come dressed for the weather, as the event occurs rain or shine. Special event guests include Mayor Mike Sobol as well as the Thomas Chapel A.M.E. Zion Boys Choir. All participants are encouraged to secure “pledges,” or contributions to SVCM, for the walk. All money collected may be turned in to your team’s coordinator, or if you are walking individually, you can turn it in at during registration time or after the event by delivering it to SVCM.

“The Hunger Walk is so meaningful to me because it brings the congregations, organizations and individuals of the Valley together for a common purpose - to help put food on the tables of those who are challenged to do so,” Walker said. “This is the main SVCM fund-raising annual event for the food ministry each year. I am amazed by the generosity of the businesses and community members we have already seen for this year’s event.”

For Drew Jorgensen, a regular walker and coordinator of her Christ Community Church team, the event “serves as a direct way to be the hands and feet of Christ in the community,” she said. “Students can’t perform as well in class if they are hungry, which affects the entire classroom. Parents may make unwise choices if they are unable to support their family’s food needs. Physiologically, hunger impacts one’s outlook on life; all of this makes this cause so important to me.

“This is one of the most visible community efforts to show God’s love each year. I love that the business community has become so involved,” she said.

The Walk for Hunger Relief stemmed from the original world hunger relief fund-raising walk event know as the Crop Walk, a program of Church World Service.

“About 10 years ago,” Walker said, “our committee made an important shift to allow all the funds to go more directly to this community’s hunger needs, instead of meeting both local and world hunger needs. Now, 90 percent will go to the SVCM food ministry, and a 10 percent tithe is given to world hunger relief.”

During the first six months of this year, the ministry provided food to an average 388 households each month, Brame said. Although most of the food is donated, SVCM spends an average of $3,636 per month for food.

All contributions are tax-deductible.

If you wish to participate but are unable to walk at the event, contributions may be dropped off at SVCM, 101 N. Ridgeway, across the side street from Black Mountain Primary. Make checks payable to SVCM, noted for Walk for Hunger Relief; cash is also welcomed. Alternatively, if you know a walker in your neighborhood or church, you can sponsor them and turn your contribution in to them.

For more event and ministry information, contact Brame (664-9224) or Bill Walker (273-0025).