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Walking To Help the Homeless

Schools, churches and community groups join in effort.

Hundreds of people are walking all over Mount Vernon. They are part of the thousands of people participating in the Help the Homeless Walkathon, which will culminate in a walk on the National Mall on Saturday, Nov. 20. In the meantime, churches, schools and community groups are holding mini-walks to help meet the goals of local non-profit organizations.

Tracy Davis, development officer for UCM, said that UCM’s Walk to Help the Homeless will be held on Thursday, Nov. 4, between 3:30 and 7 p.m. As of this week, they had 791 walkers and they have raised $10,930.

“We are shooting for 1,250 walkers to get the $25,000 bonus [from Fannie Mae Foundation],” she said.

One of the schools that has already participated in the Help the Homeless Mini-Walkathon for UCM was Browne Academy.

“As part of our school's on-going commitment to community service throughout the school year, Browne Academy students will be participating in our 4th Annual Help the Homeless Mini-Walkathon sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation,” said Mary Tobias, director of communications at Browne, prior to the event.

“Browne Academy is hosting this mini-walkathon to support the efforts of the United Community Ministries, a local agency focusing on crisis intervention services for needy families. Our students will also have the opportunity to hear from a representative from UCM who will explain how our students' participation will make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.”

Tobias said that they always have a very strong turnout for this event and believes that they exceeded last year’s goals for the number of participants and money raised.

NEW HOPE HOUSING is another beneficiary of the walkathons, and Burgundy Farm Country Day School was one of the participating schools helping them. The student council sponsored the mini-walk, in which all students participated during their PE classes. They followed a course around the campus, and persevered despite the rainy day. Chris Bonifant from New Hope Housing came to speak to members of the student council about homelessness and how the homeless shelters operate.

“The past few weeks have been very busy as the Help the Homeless Walkathon program has gotten underway. Our thanks to all who have helped — organizing mini-walks, helping arrange educational programs, and providing contributions to support walkers,” said Logan Alley, office manager for New Hope Housing.

“Many area faith communities, schools, and community groups have organized mini-walks. Our special thanks to the teachers, students and parents at Carl Sandburg Middle School, Bush Hill Elementary School, Burgundy Farm County Day School, and Hybla Valley Elementary School for in-school education and mini-walk programs. And to St. Ambrose School's 8th Grade, Mount Vernon UMC, Bethany Lutheran's confirmation class-all participating in the walkathon program-and Grace Presbyterian for its generous contribution.”

Alley said that a few weeks ago, over 80 residents, staff and friends from the community participated in a mini-walk at Mondloch House Family Shelter.

“It was an important evening to let our neighbors know there is a need, and to build support for residents who are working to rebuild their independence. Thank you to all

who participated. We are very grateful for all who have made financial contributions to support the walkathon program. Over 100 individuals and organizations have helped so far.”

Bonifant said, “Between the four schools, almost 3,000 students and teachers walked. Funds raised to sponsor walkers totaled over $19,000. There are lots of other schools, too, that walk for other agencies as part of the Help the Homeless Walkathon program. It's a wonderful program that helps so many agencies that provide direct services to the homeless.”