Hundreds of community members gathered at the Chelsea Parade Green in Norwich for the 3rd annual Eastern Connecticut Walk Against Hunger. The event benefits the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center and Connecticut Food Bank programs in Windham County. Click here to view the photo gallery on Facebook.
Though the weather was hot and the line at Ben & Jerry's for free ice cream was long, the event drew forty teams, many from member agencies of the Food Center. The walk was a 2-5-mile, round-trip stroll from Chelsea Parade through Norwich to Brown Memorial Park, where there was a rest stop, and then back up to the green. It is hoped the event raised more than $30,000 to support the Food Center and local pantries. Final numbers are still being tallied.
The event began with encouragement from Linda Gastiger of General Dynamics-Electric Boat, chair of the Food Center Oversight Committee. "Your participation today will help United Way in our fight against hunger and food insecurity in our community," she said. Paul O'Leary of Connecticut Food Bank was also on-hand to say a few words to the crowd.
April Cain, a regular volunteer at the Food Center with a background in health and fitness, energized the group and led them in stretching exercises to prepare for the Walk.
At the conclusion of the event and when the walkers had arrived back at the green, Panera Bread presented a check for more than $2,500 to the Food Center (in photo). Panera stores in New London County collected donations at their cash registers for several weeks leading up to the Walk. Panera also generously provided lunch for all of the Walk volunteers.
Spirit Awards were presented to the following:
- United Community & Family Services received the Team Spirit Award;
- The Hungry Walkers from Montville Union Baptist Church received the Best Costume Award for their zombie-themed garb; and
- The New Life Holy Walkamolies from New Life Christian Church received the Best Team Name Award.
Awards for top individual and team fundraisers will be presented in September at Connecticut Food Bank's Hunger Action Heroes event.
Special thanks to our "Food Insecurity Fighter" sponsor, the First United Methodist Church in Mystic. Thank you to our other sponsors and in-kind donors: Ben & Jerry's, Navy Federal Credit Union, The Bulletin, Cumulus Media and 102.3 The Wolf, Starbucks, OPEIU Local 106, the Southeastern CT Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, American Ambulance, Subway, Karma Water, Backus Hospital, The Arc New London County, C&J Septic, and Coca-Cola Bottling Company of SE New England.
And a big thanks to the 100+ volunteers that helped make the day a great success!