CLINTON — WHEAT, the Item Appeal and the St. Vincent de Paul Society are hoping for a good turnout for this year’s Walk for Hunger on Saturday, May 28. The walk leaves from St. John’s Gym on Chestnut Street in Clinton at 10 a.m. Registration begins at 9 a.m.
With a downturn in the economy, all three organizations are receiving fewer donations and more requests for goods and services.
“It’s just tough keeping the (food pantry) shelves full,” said Donna Jarvis, assistant to the executive director of WHEAT. “The Walk for Hunger this year is more important that it’s ever been.”
Jarvis said WHEAT is regularly serving 50 to 60 people at its Community Café in Clinton, which provides free meals six days a week. The amount of people is up from 40 last year. She estimates that the food pantry see 20 to 30 requests for food each of the four days it is open.
Paul Keane, president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which also has a food pantry and provides help for families in need, said that he’s seeing the same trend.
“We desperately need help because we have more people than ever asking for help,” he said.
Carol Ann Hamilton, board member of the Item Appeal said in a prepared statement, “2011 has been a very difficult year, not only for the Item Appeal, but other local agencies that assist those in need.
“This year has seen more requests for various types of assistance, which in turn has just about depleted the funds for the Appeal. The declining economy touches everyone,” she said.
Jarvis agreed. “The donations that we get are cut,” she said, adding that even people who give have less to give this year, due to the increase in gas and food prices. “A lot of it is due for the economy.”
This is the seventh Walk for Hunger. The walk has raised $65,000 for those in need locally since 2005, Keane said. The five-mile walk begins and ends at St. John’s Gym.
“We want to encourage as many walkers as possible to reach out and get as many donors as possible,” Keane said. He also suggested that friends and co-workers form teams and walk together.
For those who are not sure they can walk five miles, there will be a walk around Clinton’s Central Park. In this way, many senior citizens, small children and people with disabilities participate in this Health Walk. “Every step counts,” Keene said.
The organizations are also asking for volunteers in the community to man water stations and for businesses to help with the costs of the walk. Fire Water and Wine, of Bolton, has donated five cases of water and 10 bags of ice; and Dunn and Company has donated all of the printing for the event.
Every donation, said Jarvis, reduces the cost of the walk and ensures more money makes it into the community. “I would love to see it break $10,000,” she said.
Keanne said it is often hard to think that, in this day, local residents are going without nutrition and proper clothing, but “We see that every day between these three organizations,” he said. “We’re asking people to please be generous this year.”
How to get involved
Walkers must get sponsors to pledge money as part of the Walk for Hunger. There are three ways to get sponsorship forms. They are: