GNH Lumber-Outdoor Living-JUNE 2024

Inaugural FUN Walk raises thousands for local food programs

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Dozens of walkers took off from Mosher Park last Sunday for the inaugural FUN Walk to support area food programs. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

RAVENA — Donning bright orange shirts and carrying placards, dozens of local residents set off from Mosher Park last Sunday for the inaugural FUN Walk.

The first-ever Feed UR Neighbor Walk to Fight Hunger is a program of the RCS Association of Churches and is designed to raise funds to support food initiatives in the local community.

The FUN Walk replaces the CROP Walk, a global fundraising event that the association has participated in for around 40 years. But while 25% of the funds raised in a CROP Walk stay local, with the rest going to communities in need around the world, 100% of the FUN Walk funds will go to local programs.

“Not all of the money that is donated in the CROP Walk stays in our community, so the RCS Association of Churches felt we would rather support our own folks here,” event co-organizer Pastor Chuck Engelhardt said. “So out of that came an initiative called the FUN Walk, and 100% of the donations will stay here in our community to fund all of our various food initiatives.”

Pastor Jim Williams from Congregational Christian Church addressed walkers under the pavilion at Mosher Park before the walk got underway. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Several local food programs will benefit from the funds raised through the FUN Walk — the food pantries at St. Patrick’s Church in Ravena, Trinity United Methodist Church in Coeymans Hollow and Venture Churches Food Pantry in Selkirk.

Funds raised through the walk will also go to the food assistance program Helping Harvest in Faith Plaza; the Brown Bag Project, which provides lunches to children during school breaks; and the school district’s Backpack Programs in the elementary, middle and high schools, Engelhardt said.

Rebecca Flach, executive director of Helping Harvest — one of the food initiatives that will benefit from the event — said the community’s show of support for the inaugural walk was greatly appreciated.

“We run a little charity, and it can sometimes feel isolating in a small town like we have, so to see a group of supporters like this is really amazing,” Flach said.

Walkers held up placards as they made their way down the two-mile route. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

The Art Department at RCS High School made a contribution of its own to the community-based effort.

“The RCS Art Department and two of the teachers had their students design our logo,” Engelhardt said. “They did a wonderful job.”

Pastor Jim Williams from Congregational Christian Church said the two-mile walk and the money it raises will be a boon to the community.

“Whatever money we raise, 100% goes to these organizations to take care of those who are a little less fortunate,” Williams said. “This is a real need in the community. We have raised funds for 40 years through the CROP Walk program, but the percentage that we got for the funds that we raised was only 25%. This area has a 47% poverty rate, so we decided to do this program on our own because the return under the CROP Walk was only $1,000 to $1,200. Right now, we are at almost $4,000.”

All of the $4,000 that was raised Sunday will stay local and aid area food programs, Williams said.

He said his wife Sue Williams and Engelhardt coordinated the first FUN Walk, which left Mosher Park at 1 p.m. Sunday and wound around the village, stopping along the way for reflection and prayer before returning to Mosher Park.

“It’s turning out to be a wonderful blessing,” Williams said.

Dozens participated in the first-ever FUN Walk in Ravena. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media
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