West Essex volunteers gathered nearly two-dozen grocery bags and thousands of dollars to help the hungry in their community and abroad this month.
More than 75 walkers and volunteers collected 23 grocery bags of food and more than $8,000 — with pledges still pouring in — to help stop hunger at the annual West Essex CROP Walk For Hunger on Oct. 13.
Walkers were greeted at Trinity Academy in Caldwell by route coordinator Lori Testa and Reverend James Manos of Saint Thomas More Church in Fairfield. Rev. Manos shared stories of countries that deal with poverty and hunger every day, while Testa thanked walkers for their efforts to raise money and help those less fortunate. Rev. Manos blessed the group before they began the walk.
Funds raised through the walk will assist a variety of projects aimed at helping the hungry — both in Essex County and overseas. Last year, the group raised more than $7,000, of which 25 percent was distributed locally to soup kitchens and food pantries in Caldwell, Roseland, Newark, Paterson and Hillside.
At least $2,000 from this year's fundraising will remain in Essex County to support food pantries, supply emergency aid and help those that are less fortunate.
The top fundraisers for the event were:
- The parishioners of St. Thomas More Church in Fairfield, who raised $1,031 with a water jug collection
- Ed Karpinski, who raised $1,130; and
- Heather Ayero, who raised $285.
In addition, volunteers from local churches and schools provided a valuable service by giving directions, distributing refreshments, and operating checkpoints along the route. The organizers offered their thanks to the Caldwell Police and West Essex First Aid Squad for being available during the walk.
The event committee also everyone in Essex County for their support and urges any walkers who still have pledges to turn them into their recruiter as soon as possible.