RINGWOOD, N.J. – When a mother sought assistance from the food pantry at the Community Presbyterian Church in Ringwood, none of her four children were wearing socks.
“Those kinds of things move you,” said Kathy LaViola, a parishioner of the church, who volunteers at the food pantry, a branch of the Center for Food Action.
“Poverty is not something people talk about,” she said.
LaViola is one of a handful of representatives from every house of worship in Ringwood who are working to organize the 21st annual Ringwood Hunger Walk.
The organizing committee recently met at the church for a kick-off meeting.
The walk is the lone event where the organization asks for money instead of food, and the funds raised will primarily go toward the organization’s homelessness prevention program, committee members explained.
For example, funds could be given to someone “close to the edge” who needs to fix a vehicle so they can get to work, Carole Williams said. Funds can also be given to families struggling to pay their heating bills or rent.
The program screens those seeking assistance, and serves residents of Northern Passaic County communities such as Pompton Lakes, Ringwood, Wanaque and West Milford.
LaViola said although people don’t always know what others are going through, the walk is a way to help struggling neighbors.
“It could be your next door neighbor. It could be the older gentleman down the street,” she said.
The 2017 Ringwood Hunger Walk will take place in the Sheperd Lake section of Ringwood State Park on Sunday Nov. 5 at 1 p.m.
The one-mile walk is sponsored by all of the houses of worship in Ringwood and involves volunteer efforts from Lakeland Regional High School students in the LEAP leadership program, the Ringwood Chamber of Commerce and the St. Catherine Knights of Columbus.
The public is invited to take part and collect donations beforehand to turn in at the walk. Collection envelopes are available at the Ringwood Public Library, Wanaque Public Library and all houses of worship in Ringwood. Envelopes will also be distributed at the Ringwood Farmers Market on Oct. 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Ringwood Pizza on Oct. 8, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Stop& Shop on Oct. 21 and 21 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Jason Okin, the event’s longtime organizer, said the fundraising effort is crucial to helping those in need, so he tells people “don’t be shy” when asking for donations.
Donations by check can be sent to: The Ringwood Hunger Walk, 145 Carletondale Rd., Ringwood, NJ 07456.
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