Ringwood Walk to raise money to fight hunger, homelessness

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  • The Ringwood Hunger Walk, now in its 21st year, is just one way local groups are raising money to fight hunger and homelessness. photo provided

The upper Passiac County branch of the Center for Food Action, based in the Community Presbyterian Church in Ringwood, serves hundreds of folks in need in West Milford and other places such as Pompton Lakes, Ringwood and Wanaque.

Once a year, for the past 21 years, houses of worship have banded together to sponsor the Ringwood Hunger Walk, which raises money for the Ringwood branch of the Center for Food Action, which has eight sites in Bergen County, but only one in Passiac.

People might be surprised to know the level of need that exists in their communities, said longtime walk coordinator Jason Okin.

"We've served poor folks, as well as those who you might consider to be well-off but who are going through a financial crisis, such as a job loss or major illness," Okin said.

While the pantries collect food all year round, the walk is the one fundraising vehicle where it specifically asks for cash or checks.

That's for two reasons, Okin said. Money can be stretched further. The pantry can get $9 worth of food for every $1 it receives by buying from the Community Food Bank.

The money can also be used by families struggling to pay their rent or heat bills.

The houses of worship involved in the fundraiser are Temple Beth Rishon, St. Catherine's of Bologna RC Church, Ringwood Community Presbyterian Church, Christ the King Lutheran Church, and Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopalian). Community organizations involved include students from Lakeland Regional High School's LEAP program, the Ringwood Chamber of Commerce and St. Catherine's Knights of Columbus.

Okin said that the past year's campaign raised a record $18,600.

"People can donate all year long, and they do," he said.

The one-mile walk is set for Sunday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. in the Sheperd Lake section of Ringwood State Park.

Okin said that collection envelopes are available at all houses of worship in the Ringwood area and at the Ringwood Public Library,Wanaque Public Library, and the Ringwood Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7; from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ringwood Pizza on Sunday, Oct. 8, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Stop & Shop on Oct. 21 and Oct. 22.

Non-perishable food is collected regularly at the Ringwood Public Library, the houses of worship and by Coldwell Banker in the Fieldstone Shopping Center, Okin said.

Okin said that any person or group who brings in $100 or more in cash or checks to the walk will get a T-shirt. Elementary age students who make any donation as the walk will get a Center for Food Action wristband.

Donations by check can be sent to: The Ringwood Hunger Walk, 145 Carletondale Road, Ringwood, NJ 07456.

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West Milford, NJ