PA Walk for Hunger Participants Raise $6000 for Area’s Homeless and Hungry

Joining an estimated 42,000 volunteers from across Massachusetts, a group of Phillips Academy students devoted their Sunday morning to the 20-mile Walk for Hunger in Cambridge. The 86 PA participants raised approximately $6000 to support various food banks, soup kitchens, and emergency food pantries across the state. Sponsored by Project Bread, an organization dedicated to alleviating hunger within the communities of the Bay State, this year’s event helped to bring in a total of $3,000,000. By raising money through the Walk for Hunger and similar events, such as the Ride for Hunger, Project Bread strives to assist the nearly 500,000 individuals in Massachusetts that are in need of reliable access to food. According to Interim Director of Community Service Mike Koehler ’94, the Walk for Hunger has long been a popular event for members of the Academy community. Mr. Koehler stated, “We were thrilled with [this year’s] turnout!” In comparison with 54 students that volunteered last year from PA, Sunday’s high number of participants proved a drastic improvement and an exciting sign of continued success for the Walk’s future. Reflecting on the uplifting showing of student support for the Walk, Mr. Koehler said, “For the most part, the students that made the commitment to walk followed through with their commitment.” Although not everyone that originally signed up attended, Mr. Koehler noted, “There were even some students who showed up that morning who had not signed up before… so we ultimately had 86 students participate.” The high number of participants was a relieving result for the Community Service Office, which last year was forced to deal with an unexpectedly low showing. Mr. Koehler considered this year’s Walk for Hunger an enormous success, and offered his praise to both the participants and coordinators. Out of the 86 volunteers, 83 completed the six-hour march, while the remaining 3 helped to cheer on their peers at the 16.5-mile checkpoint, one of the many stops where students were offered snacks and refreshments. Tami Fay ’03, one of the students who helped at the checkpoint, commented, “We helped to slice oranges, hand out water, and generally cheer up walkers as they passed our checkpoint station…it was a great chance to spend a beautiful day off campus with cheerful people.” Alvin Yu ’04, another volunteer, expressed nothing but excitement over his walking experience, stating, “I loved the walk all the way – with entertainment on the way, refreshment stands at every mile, and ice cream bars at the end…It was a memorable experience, and I think more people from PA should participate.” Yu added, “My favorite part of the walk was definitely when I ran across the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge over the Charles River with three of my friends…we decided to break into a run; it was tiring, but still fun.” Although this was the first time that Yu had taken part in the Walk, he resolved to continue his involvement in the future. He also said that despite the grueling march, he has recovered completely, remarking, “ I even went to volleyball practice on the Monday following the 20-mile walk.” The project coordinators expressed similar satisfaction, and the Community Service Office plans to continue encouraging students from the Academy to participate in the Walk for Hunger in upcoming years. Focusing on the importance of the event, Mr. Koehler explained that Project Bread provides funding for many hunger organizations that the Academy works with.on a regular basis, including The Boston Food Bank, Bread and Roses, and Lazarus House. Mr. Koehler hopes that the strong student showing at the event will ensure that Project Bread can continue to offer these vital funds to needy individuals throughout the state. Reiterating her satisfaction with the event, Community Service Teaching Fellow Courtney Stubbs concluded, “I could not have been more pleased with the Walk for Hunger this year. The students and faculty that participated helped to make this one of the most successful yet.”