Walk for the Centre going virtual!

Last year’s walkathon to raise funds for the Centretown Emergency Food Centre was successful despite the constraints imposed by the pandemic. This year’s walk will take place on October 3.   Photo: CCSAC

By Joseph Courtright

The annual Walk for the Centre fundraiser for the Centretown Emergency Food Centre will be on Sunday, October 3. This year, due to COVID-19, the event will again be virtual with donations taken online and walkers encouraged to choose their own path.

Our community was very generous this past COVID year in providing the Centretown Emergency Food Centre with money for the food supplies that helped many of our neighbours.

The Centretown Emergency Food Centre serves a large central catchment area including Centretown, the Glebe, Old Ottawa South and Old Ottawa East with a population of students, seniors, recent immigrants and rooming house occupants amongst its clients. The Food Centre operates with 70-plus volunteers. Twenty-two neighbourhood churches including five from the Glebe are members of the Centretown Churches Social Action Committee (CCSAC), the parent organization of the Food Centre. CCSAC together with some local sponsors make each year’s walkathons successful community events.

The economic consequences of the COVID shutdown have been especially hard for lower-income residents, while pandemic guidelines mean many are isolated as well. The generous volunteers and staff at the Food Centre were able to keep operating within the limits of public health restrictions. The centre has been offering a scaled-back service with pre-bagged groceries since the pandemic started in March 2020 but is looking forward to returning to a more personalized service as soon as possible.

Last year’s Walk for the Centre was a wonderful success. People walked with their family or in their bubbles, on routes of their own choosing. Walkers were encouraged to decorate and carry colourful personal posters in support of the walkathon and later to submit photos of their walk. Organizers were able to offer prizes donated by generous local neighbourhood grocery stores. We plan to do the same for this year’s walk.

The Virtual Walk for the Centre runs from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 3. Our walkathon offers lots of options: you can choose your own 2- or 4-kilometre walk in your own neighbourhood, on your favourite trail or on your treadmill at home! If you choose, you can do the lovely path behind Parliament Hill, the traditional route for the walkathon in past years.

Due to the pandemic, we are encouraging people to register and fundraise online. You can sponsor an individual or a team, or sign up yourself to walk and secure your own set of sponsors, even if only yourself or your own family. It is also possible to simply donate and not walk, if desired. Ask for a pledge form or make a donation by visiting the CCSAC website, centretownchurches.org. For cash donations on October 3, if you are collecting money the traditional way, there will be a drop-off site for donations and pledge forms.

Detailed information will be available on the CCSAC website and Facebook pages closer to the date, so check us out there. We are also asking friends of the Emergency Food Centre to promote the walk on their social media sites and to bring a poster on the day of the walk.

Our theme of “Neighbours Helping Neighbours” means even more help is needed in troubled times so please register for the Walk for the Centre to support our local emergency food centre at 507 Bank Street.

Joe Courtright is a long-time resident of the Glebe and a church representative on the Centretown Churches Social Action Committee (CCSAC).

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