Walk to raise awareness for homelessness, hunger

ALPENA – An organized walk Saturday through downtown Alpena is expected to put the spotlight on the issues of homelessness and hunger.

Besides its awareness mission, the 2013 Walk for Homelessness and Hunger also will serve as a fundraiser for local programs that serve people in need of food to eat and a place to stay. Registration for the event begins at 9 a.m. at the Salvation Army Church at 722 Second Avenue, with the walk taking place from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“Hopefully by walking through the downtown we will alert businesses and individuals to that fact that we do have issues of homelessness and hunger here locally,” said Randy MacAulay, an organizer of the walk and director of St. Bernard’s Friendship Room. “Besides promoting awareness, this is also a small fundraiser for the Northeast Michigan Coalition for the Prevention of Homelessness and Hunger.”

The event is the second recent one designed to focus on these important issues. On Oct. 25, about 25 students and a handful of adults conducted a symbolic gesture by sleeping outdoors in front of the Alpena High School from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The kids also attended the AHS home football game that night, where they went into the stands seeking donations to again benefit the local Coalition for the Prevention of Homelessness and Hunger.

MacAulay said art students at AHS have gotten caught up in the cause as well by drawing and painting posters related to the subject. Some of these works currently are hanging at Cabin Creek Coffee and the Fresh Palate.

“The posters display different aspects of homelessness and hunger,” MacAulay said. “The students had some very creative things pop into their heads and they put those down on paper. The posters are very clever. They have impact. They will make people think.”

Participants registering for Saturday’s walk may pay a registration fee at that time, though doing so is just a formality, according to MacAulay.

“We encourage people to walk whether they want to donate or not,” he said. “If people want to donate, then that would be a bonus.”

In conjunction with the event, the Gone to Pieces Quilting Guild created a queen-size quilt that will be raffled off after the walk is finished. Other raffle prizes donated by the public also are being offered, including blankets, additional quilts and artwork. Those interested can purchase raffle tickets at the Salvation Army before or after the walk, with the winners to be drawn after the walk is completed.

All money raised will be given to local programs that provide homeless and/or hunger assistance. While many people already realize there are people in Northeast Michigan experiencing these issues, MacAulay said good programs are in place to help.

“We have, in my opinion, a very good safety net here to address the needs, such as the Friendship Room, Sunrise Shelter, Shelter, Inc. and those kinds of agencies,” he said. “We are all in this together.”

The local walk coincides each year with the State of Michigan’s Hunger and Homelessness Campaign. For more information, contact MacAulay at 354-8018.

Diane Speer can be reached via email at lifestyles@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5691. Follow Diane on Twitter ds_alpenanews. Read her blog, Art Beat, at www.thealpenanews.com.