The 39th annual Inland Valley Hope Partners' fall fundraiser Walk for the Hungry is set for Sunday, Oct. 21, but this year it will be conducted in Claremont. The very successful event has been held at Chaffey High School in Ontario. It involves individuals, groups and businesses banding together in order to raise money to buy items to stock local charitable food shelves.
This year the event will start at the Claremont University Consortium, 101 S. Mills Ave. The 5-kilometer course will wind its way through the lovely Claremont Colleges.
Activities begin with registration at noon and the actual walk at 1 p.m.
Organizers are hoping that the Walk for the Hungry attracts 1,000 people.
"The new location is in a way a breath of fresh air element to the event which is celebrating its 39th anniversary in the community. We have held the walk in the city of Ontario for the past several years with much success and support from the faith communities and businesses and it is with the blessing of these same partners that we were able to move the event," said Wytske Visser, Inland Valley Hope Partners executive director.
Visser said the Claremont setting is beautiful and all the lovely fruit trees surrounding the Consortium's grounds is another way to promote the nonprofit's Gleaning Hope Program. The program involves having volunteers harvest produce from backyard growers, which is then given to the food pantries.
Those pantries have seen the number of clients helped double in the past four years.
"The need is always changing and growing especially as we closer to the holiday and winter times of the year. We are seeing steady 5,000-plus numbers of individuals monthly. But, with food supplies on the decline it is difficult to supply the demand," Visser said.
"The community has helped by conducting food drives, but food availability and budgets are tight. The walk is our biggest and best way to get the community involved in the fight against hunger and make residents aware of this often hidden need."
Visser is the longtime executive director, but she also is a longtime walk participant.
"I believe, as a leader of the organization, that I must participate in the walk and any other fundraising events to support the services we provide to the community," she said.
"We ask others to raise money and awareness for the plight of our neighbors. How can I not support these events personally and by asking my friends, family and neighbors to help me raise money for these critically needed services.
For many, such as Visser, the October walk has become an annual effort to help.
"We see so many returning individuals and teams each year, walkers have told us that they coordinate teams because walking enriches them and they feel connected in a very deep and special way to the families they help," she said.
The walk provides a way for business, faith communities, service groups and students to come together as teams to help the community. Participants are asked to collect canned goods if possible and pledges. A little can go a long way because Inland Valley Hope Partners works with larger food banks. For example, $100 can feed a family of five for about a week.
Signing up to be a team is easy, she said. Walk forms are available by calling 909-622-3806, ext. 242, or going online at InlandHopePartners.org.
Inland Valley Hope Partners has been helping feed and house those in need for decades. It provides counseling and some shelter facilities, but the bulk of what the Pomona-based nonprofit does is provide sustenance to those with nothing as well as to individuals who need some additional help. The organization provides more than 900,000 meals yearly while serving 75,000 people throughout the area. Of the number, about 50 percent are children, according to information from the group.