The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Faith

September 21, 2012

Friends of the Poor Walk set for Sept. 29

St. Vincent de Paul helps those in need

ANDERSON, Ind. — Heather Foster is a single mom raising three kids. There are months where she just can’t pay all the bills.

So she had to choose — electric bill or groceries. Foster looked for help and found St. Vincent de Paul.

“There are many people in situations like me — a single parent who has fallen on hard times like loss of employment,” Foster, 36, said. “It is nice to know there is someone there you can fall back on to help you. I’m trying to raise three kids on my own and it can be hard. I’m very grateful for organizations like this one that are there to help out.”

Her story is just one of thousands that volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul hear every year. In 2011, the Catholic lay organization assisted 3,473 people with rent, utility assistance and providing food, furniture, appliances and other items.

And the event that raises the majority of funds to help sustain the organization throughout the year is the annual Friends of the Poor Walk. The event will begin at noon Sept. 29 at the Highland Middle School track, 2108 E. County Road 200N, and everyone is encouraged to attend and collect donations or pledges from supporters as well as making a personal donation.

Registration for the event is free and each walker will receive a free T-shirt, coupons and gifts. People can register the day of the event beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Highland, but it can be done ahead of time at www.svdpfriendsofthepoorwalk.org.

Participants are asked to bring at least one nonperishable food item.

As a teacher, Hanlon saw children who struggled with poverty and wanted to help. She got involved in St. Vincent de Paul and helped encourage the organization to start the annual walk five years ago.

“I think the community of Anderson is becoming aware of just how many families are affected by poverty,” Hanlon said. “There is such a need here and this is something we can do to help.”

In addition to being a great community event to raise money and awareness to the plight of those families struggling, she said the Friends of the Poor Walk is a way to get children involved in philanthropy.

“I firmly believe we have to teach our children we are blessed and that others may not be as blessed or as fortunate,” Hanlon said. “This is a fun, family event that can do just that.”

There were about 300 walkers during last year’s event and the goal for the fourth annual walk is 400. Last year, $17,000 was raised along with nonperishable food items collected.

While support for the event continues to grow, so does the community’s need.

“If it weren’t for the walk we could only go so far into the year and then have to turn people away,” Hanlon said. “We depend on that fundraiser. And 100 percent of what is collected, every penny, stays right here in the community.”

None of the money collected goes to the national organization, covers fees or pays for insurance, she said. “It all stays right here to help the poor.”

The event is offered nationwide with more than 18,000 walkers in 38 states raising $1.4 million for St. Vincent de Paul last year. There are seven different sites across Indiana for the walk.

In addition to the walk, there will be activities for children at the school that include clown appearances, face painting, music and a trampoline. Food will be served.

Those wishing to donate to St. Vincent de Paul may call 642-5401 or visit 2115 W. 25th St., Anderson. Those wishing to receive assistance need to schedule an appointment so home visitors can come to the residence to interview them determining their needs. If they qualify for assistance, clients may be helped every six months.

Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.

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