By: J.L. Shirley
The 20th annual Hunger Walk to support the efforts of Morristown’s Community Soup Kitchen took place on Sun., Oct. 16.
“The Hunger Walk is an important fundraiser for us because we do not receive any government funding,” says Julie Hess, a part time Educator at CSK for the past nine years.
The kitchen is open in Morristown 365 days a year and has never been closed a single day since they first opened, making the donations they raise throughout the year and especially at events such as the Hunger Walk all the more important.
Registration for the walk began at 1 p.m. but the teams of community members were ready before that, prepared to walk for this cause and come together from various areas for this one event.
“Many middle school and high school students participated, along with families, congregations and corporate teams,” says Hess who also worked as an event organizer.
With more than 1,000 walkers at the event, the Hunger Walk was a definite success.
“The walk has grown each year as word has spread,” explains Hess of the rising number of participants.
Besides being a fundraiser, the Hunger Walk also offers an educational experience and gives the public a chance to recognize and understand hunger and homelessness in the community.
The Morristown HS Key Club was essential volunteers in their help to run the Story Station for the event. At the Story Station walkers were given a card which “track Soup Kitchen guest’s stories and experiences,” states Hess.
The Story Station is set up in five different parts. Each part is received by the walker at different parts of the walk, the first being at the time of registration. Each installment of the story cards allows the walker a glimpse into the life of a person who needs the help that CSK provides.
The story cards are told from the perspective of both adults and children and there are more than 70 different story card narratives to follow, allowing even members of large groups to each receive a different card.
“We have found this to be an effective way to teach about homelessness and local poverty,” says Hess and notes that the story cards generate a lot of discussion and conversations among the walkers.
The fundraising goal for this year’s Hunger Walk was $100,000 and after the event the teams had raised more than $95,000 while donations continue to arrive at the office since.
“I am pleased with the community’s response to the Hunger Walk,” says Hess. “At a time when our country is divided, it is refreshing to see so many people come together to help their neighbors in need.”
With a small staff at the kitchen everyone worked closer together to make this event, as well as the other held by the kitchen, a success.
“Everyone pitches in to help with each project. We have a great team!” states Hess.
According to the CSK website the kitchen also “provides nutritious meals in a warm, safe and caring environment, free of charge, no questions asked, to anyone who comes seeking nourishment.” Also, the kitchen offers a farmer’s market three times a week supported by grant from the Fannie E. Rippel Foundation. The farmer’s market allows guests in need access to nutritious foods.
Hess coordinates the Farmer’s Markets on Mon. and Fri. and this market is free to the guests who come to shop.
For more information about what CSK does or how to donate or volunteer, visit the website at www.cskmorristown.org or call 973-267-0709.