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SOS Walk aims to stamp out hunger in Massena

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MASSENA - Massena’s version of the annual Crop Walk will hit the streets Oct. 21 to raise money for the hungry.

The SOS (Stamp Out Starvation) Walk, sponsored by the Greater Massena Ministerial Association, starts at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, and participants can walk a five-mile route or a shorter route of approximately one mile.

“The Greater Massena Ministerial Association quite a number of years back decided they would host a similar walk, but call it a SOS Walk. The SOS Walk is kind of Massena’s response to the annual Crop Walk. Crop Walks are held throughout the nation. It’s done to alleviate hunger,” the Rev. Judith A. Van Kennen, pastor of Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ, said.

Following the Crop Walks, portions of the money raised are sent abroad and some comes back to the local community for distribution.

Unlike the Crop Walks, 100 percent of the proceeds from the SOS Walk stay in Massena, according to Rev. Van Kennen.

“We support the Neighborhood Center, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and Meals on Wheels,” she said.

The SOS Walk began in 1992 when local clergy decided rather than send money to a national charity, they could hold a local fundraiser for the benefit of Massena charities.

Their initial walk raised $3,300 for local food pantries.

The need is present more than ever now, Rev. Van Kennen said.

“It’s very needed. These local food pantries really need the support of everyone in town. Hopefully this walk will give them a little bit of money so they can buy the things they’re not receiving,” she said.

Everyone is welcome to grab a pledge sheet, get their donations and participate in the walk of their choice.

“We’re encouraging all the churches in Massena to participate, if they have volunteers that want to walk and raise money. Clergy will be walking and getting the word out to the congregations to support it,” Rev. Van Kennen said.

Some children who attend Trinity Catholic School and belong to various churches are also using it as a community service project, she said.

Participants sign up others who pledge them for the walk, collect the money ahead of time and turn in their sheets and money the day of the walk.

“We ask people that are coming to join in, to bring their registration sheets by 1:30 p.m.,” Rev. Van Kennen said.

The walk will be mapped out, and there will be markers to guide the walkers along the five-mile route as well as the shorter one.

Water will be available, and there will be refreshments at the end, she said.

Anyone who needs sponsor forms can contact Rev. Van Kennen at 769-8523 or Sister Maureen at St. Mary’s/St. Joseph’s at 764-0239.

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