Friday, October 12, 2012

Hunger Walk gets people moving

By Ashley Gill, Guest Writer

Hunger was put on hold in Lakewood last Sunday for the annual Hunger Walk.
Thirty members of the Pacific Lutheran University community arrived at Fort Steilacoom Park to help the hungry.

Students and faculty members from the Resident Hall Association, Campus Ministry, Center for Community Engagement and Service, Social Work Club and Psychology Club gave a lending hand and participated in the walk. Lute Nation and PLUtonic performed as the event was closing.  President Thomas Krise spoke to the crowd along with the mayor of Lakewood and others, before the walkers took their spot in front of the starting line.

Senior Brandon Ruesken, president of Phi Alpha Honors Society and the student leader for PLU’s Social Work Team, has been involved with the walk for the last three years.

“I think that hunger, especially hunger in the United States, is something that is often overlooked,” Ruesken said. “In Social Work one of our big things is community organizing, and as such, this is a big community organizing event so I really just get into it.”

The Hunger Walk began decades ago as the Crop Walk and developed into a Tacoma event. Associated Ministries is the sponsor of the Hunger Walk, which benefits food banks and food pantries.

Half the money goes to the Emergency Food Network, a service that provides shelters, hot meal sites and supplies to food banks. The Hunger Walk is one of the largest donors to the Emergency Food Network. 

When Kathy Russel, director of the social work program at PLU and president of the board of directors of Associated Ministries, first came to PLU, she taught J-term’s Tacoma on the Hill Top class. One of the sites they used was at Associated Ministries because they had a large board room and could eat lunch there.

“It got me hooked and I got on the board of directors and I started to get more and more involved,” Russel said. Since then, PLU has partnered with Associated Ministries over the years. PLU’s involvement started out with just the Social Work team, but soon people started bringing friends and it grew from there.

In the last few years, teams involved with the Hunger Walk at PLU have become more serious within the last few years when it comes to raising money.  Senior Maggie Mickelson, who participated in the Hunger Walk, said the walk “is important because there are funds that need to be raised and Associated Ministries does so many amazing things. It’s great to see the greater Pierce County community get involved.”
Various ways to get involved include volunteering, raising money, walking, sponsoring someone to walk or to be a support for the community members involved.