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SOS Walk set to raise money for food pantries

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MASSENA - Massena’s food pantries will be the beneficiaries of proceeds from an upcoming walk.

The annual SOS (Stamp Out Starvation) Walk will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 22 starting at the First United Methodist Church, Main Street, Massena. It’s sponsored by the Greater Massena Ministerial Association.

“This is our answer to the Crop Walk, which is a nationwide event,” said the Rev. Judith A. Van Kennen, pastor of Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ.

“Crop Walks are something traditionally done in the fall to raise funds for hungry people. Part of the proceeds stay in the local community and part gets sent worldwide,” she said.

That’s what separates the SOS Walk from the Crop Walk, with any money raised staying locally. It began in 1992 when local clergy decided that, rather than send money to an international charity, they could hold a local fundraiser for the benefit of Massena food pantries. Their initial walk raised $3,300 for the food pantries.

“GMMA in Massena decided we would hold something similar, solely for helping the food pantries in Massena. All proceeds stay here in Massena,” Rev. Van Kennen said.

The money will be divided among the three food pantries - St. Vincent de Paul, Massena Neighborhood Center and The Salvation Army - with another portion of the proceeds going to Massena Meals on Wheels.

Rev. Van Kennen said the need is great and continuing to grow.

“We have seen an increased need, even over this past summer. We believe there will be an increased need this winter. This past year I think food pantries struggled to meet all the needs,” she said.

Some of the funding for the food pantries comes from local churches and service clubs, but Rev. Van Kennen said they need others to step forward to help - the purpose behind the SOS Walk since funds raised by walkers will help fight hunger locally.

Various service organizations and churches in Massena are recruiting walkers to participate in the event. Each walker will be soliciting contributions from sponsors.

“In order to make it successful, we need participation. I would love to see a lot of folks out walking. We get a lot of students. They do this as part of their service work. Without the kids participating, we’d be at a disadvantage. We need people to participate, and we need people to sponsor. A lot of the local businesses have been sent letters and asked if anybody would like to participate or give a donation. No donation is too small and certainly no donation is too great,” Rev. Van Kennen said.

Participants can walk a five-mile course with water stops provided along the route. There is also a one-mile course for those who prefer a shorter walk. Refreshments will be available at the end of the course.

All donations should be turned in when participants register for the walk at 1:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church.

Information on the SOS Walk is available at area churches in Massena or more information can be obtained from St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Church at 764-0239.

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