‘Walk for Hunger’ hopes to raise $15K to support church association food programs
Deanna Nicholson knows firsthand what it’s like to wonder where your next meal is going to come from.
She used to be on welfare and use food stamps because she wasn’t able to afford food through regular means.
“They got me through some very tough times. Without them, I don’t know what I would have done,” said Nicholson, 46, of New Kensington. “I’m just thankful that’s not my circumstances now, and I want to help those that I can.”
Nicholson and her friend Brandy Kaczor were among a crowd of roughly 75 who signed up to walk in the Allegheny Valley Association of Churches annual Walk for Hunger on Sunday.
It was their first time participating in the event, which raises money for the association’s food bank, Produce to People program and emergency hunger fund.
“The money raised from these walkers will go to support our food bank, which serves about 400 families, and our Produce to People program, which also serves an additional 400 families every month with nutritious produce and other healthy foods,” said Karen Snair, association executive director. “In addition to both of those programs, we also have emergency food programs to help.”
Nicholson and Kaczor found out about the event through another friend who is affiliated with one of the participating churches.
Kaczor, 35, of New Kensington said it’s important to support food banks because there are people out there who are starving. The association’s food bank serves families in Cheswick, Tarentum, Brackenridge, Harrison, East Deer, West Deer and Fawn. Produce to People serves any Pennsylvania resident.
“Kids go hungry on the weekends. They get their main meal at school and on the weekends they’re home with not much, little in their food cupboard,” Kaczor said.
“A friend of mine when I lived in Penn Hills, she always worked with the different food banks in the Pittsburgh area,” Nicholson said. “When I heard this, I knew how much good she’s done for the community with helping with food banks, so I wanted to contribute.”
Walkers are asked to solicit donations from family and friends. Food and monetary donations are accepted, but the majority of donations are monetary, Snair said.
Last year’s walk raised just over $14,000. The association hopes to raise $15,000 this year. They won’t know exactly how much they raised until November because some participants still need to collect the money they raised, Snair said.
“The walkers get a collection envelope. After they’re done walking, they go and collect the money that people pledged for them to walk,” Snair said.
Sunday’s event took walkers on a 3.1-mile long hike from the Heights Plaza to Faith Lutheran Church, both in Harrison.
Pam Clark, a member of Natrona Heights Presbyterian Church, came to the event with members of her church group known as the “Word Walkers.” They meet at the Pittsburgh Mills mall every Wednesday night and walk the mall while listening to sermons.
It was Clark’s second time participating in the event. She said she was doing it because of her church group and because she received help through her church when she was going through a rough time financially. She wanted to give back.
“That inspired me to do it, too,” she said.