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(UPDATE: The Walk for Hunger has been postponed to Oct. 15, the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry said. All other details will remain the same, it said.)

Some 500 walkers are expected to participate in Black Mountain’s annual Walk For Hunger on Sunday, Oct. 8.

Walkers of all abilities, many pushing strollers and wheelchairs, will leave First Baptist Church at 2 p.m. to begin their one- or four-mile walks to walk at whatever pace they want (those who haven’t registered can do so at 1:30 p.m. at the church). Walkers have raised money or pledged to contribute to Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry, which holds this yearly, 10-year-old fundraiser.

All contributions are tax-deductible. Last year, walkers contributed more than $45,000 to the ministry. Register by contacting the ministry at 669-9404 or svcmdirector@gmail.com.

The Walk For Hunger stemmed from the original world hunger relief fundraising walk event known as the Crop Walk, a program of Church World Service.

Walk For Hunger goes through Black Mountain’s beautiful neighborhoods, as well as the downtown commercial area and Lake Tomahawk. If you’ve never experienced the fun of walking with hundreds of people for a good cause, this is a fun event.

Ninety percent of the money raised helps Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry feed qualifying families who live in the Swannanoa Valley. The ministry gives five percent of the event contributions to MANNA FoodBank, which supplies it and other organizations with food for clients. It will give another five percent to Bounty & Soul, a Valley organization that provides nutritional counseling along with the fresh produce it offers the people it helps.

“This is our way of supporting those other organizations that are helping to feed Valley residents,” said Cheryl Wilson, executive director of Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry and Walk For Hunger co-chair. MANNA FoodBank has supplied the ministry – and thus, the ministry’s clients – with more than 214,000 pounds of food so far this year, Wilson said.

The ministry also buys eggs, milk, cheese, butter, sugar, flour and other staples for its pantry – purchases made possible because of Walk For Hunger and other food drives.

The ministry’s pantry served 385 families during the first six months of this year (four more than during that time last year), Wilson said. Clients and volunteers go through the pantry together to select the products the client’s family likes. “We don’t just fill a box,” Wilson said.    

Both the one- and four-mile walks go past Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry’s building on N. Ridgeway Avenue (across from Black Mountain Primary School). Organizers this year are asking walk participants to carry items of food “so that they feel that they are actually feeding a family,” Wilson said. “We’re hoping that this makes them more aware of who they are helping and how they are helping this community.”

Gentry Heating is again the event’s major sponsor. Park Ridge Health, which is also a sponsor, will bring its “Wellness on Wheels” van, Wilson said. Walkers will be wearing T-shirts whose Walk For Hunger design was created by Madeline Collins, an eighth-grader at Owen Middle School.

If you can’t walk but would still like to help, mail contributions marked “Walk For Hunger” to Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry, PO Box 235, Black Mountain, NC 28711. Or drop off nonperishable food at First Baptist Church from 1:30-3 p.m. on walk day (or at the ministry any time). For more, contact the ministry at 669-9404 or svcmdirector@gmail.com.

“We all have to work together to help this community and to make sure the people with food insecurities have the food they need,” Wilson said.

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