|March 18, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 6 • Oakland, CA|
| Take a walk around the lake to fight hunger
Joan Suflita, a parishioner at the Cathedral Parish of Christ the Light, is hoping you'll join her for a walk around Lake Merritt.
As the local coordinator for the 2013 Oakland CROP Hunger Walk, Suflita knows that the April 20 event is more than a chance to get some exercise on what everybody hopes will be a beautiful spring Saturday morning.
The Oakland walk is one of seven in the diocese, scheduled for the weekend of April 20 and 21, that benefit organizations that fight hunger, both close to home and around the world. CROP Hunger Walks, which began in 1969, are sponsored by Church World Service and organized by local congregations.
Last April, about 10 faith communities came together in Oakland to raise a little more than $12,000 with the help of approximately 200 walkers.
"I like that it's for hunger and it's ecumenical," Suflita said of the 5K walk, which is "once around Lake Merritt."
Besides the camaraderie of walking with a festive group, Suflita said the walk has special meaning for her at this time of year. "The walk is a great opportunity to fulfill my Lenten discipline of prayer, sacrifice and sharing. Plus I really do believe there is enough food for all and this is but a small way to distribute the blessings I've been given."
Each local walk committee decides which local organizations will receive support from the walk. Twenty-five percent of the funds raised go to local groups. The Oakland walk will distribute 15 percent of its funds to the Alameda County Food Bank; 5 percent to the Oakland Peace Center, which operates a food pantry; and 5 percent to the St. Vincent de Paul Cathedral Conference for its work with the poor.
"Hunger is so basic," Suflita said. "It can be so invisible in our community."
Additionally, donors are able to designate a group to receive the global portion of their donation. Catholic Relief Services can be a recipient, Suflita said.
Walkers can be part of a team, or set out as individuals. So far, the Cathedral of Christ the Light team is expected to be joined by teams from the First Christian Church, the First Congregational Church, Taylor United Methodist Church, Lake Merritt United Methodist Church and the Oakland Peace Center.
"If you can't walk," Suflita said, "you can be a spirit walker." Spirit walkers are welcome to make donations online.
"We always need prayers," she said.
The Oakland walk will begin with prayer, Suflita said. Rev. Ray Sacca, cathedral rector and pastor of the cathedral parish, will commission the walkers before they head across the street to the lake.
"I'm really excited that our local effort can continue to make an impact," Suflita said of the Oakland walk, which is in its third year. The ecumenical act of walking "with our brothers and sisters" inspires her. "What a great way to put our faith in action."
CROP Hunger Walks are scheduled in other cities in the diocese over the weekend of April 20-21, including Berkeley, Alameda, Fremont, Tri-Valley/Pleasanton, Pittsburg/Antioch, Fremont and Brentwood.
To get details on any of the walks, to sign up or to make an online donation to support a team, visit www.bayareahungerwalk.org.
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