WILMINGTON — This past Sunday, four members of the Wilmington United Methodist Church walked as far as 20 miles around the town participating in a virtual Walk for Hunger to raise mon­ey for Project Bread. George Smith, Hal Wood­bury, Jessica Farns­worth Kruss, and Denise Farnsworth raised a to­tal of $5,200 in support for anti-hunger work ac­ross Massachusetts.

Project Bread is a Bos­ton-based charity born out of a grassroots movement taking a stand against hunger. Accor­ding to the Project Bread website, the Walk for Hun­ger is their largest community fundraiser for hunger solutions. For the past 51 years, they’ve seen tens of thousands of people walk to raise the issue of hunger and raise funds to help others have enough to eat. When they canceled the gathering in person, the or­ganization still wanted to fulfill their promise to raise $2 million to “help alleviate the strain of food insecurity” by calling on virtual walkers to participate at home.

Since the Walk for Hun­ger became virtual this year, these Wilmington residents wanted to keep the tradition going by walking together from a safe distance. The Farns­worths have walked in the Walk for Hunger for more than 20 years, and Wood­bury and Smith have walked it for 33 years.

“It started back in the day as a youth group activity with the WUMC,” Denise Farnsworth ex­plained. “We have loved the fundraiser that it supports and getting together in fellowship.”

This is one of many WUMC traditions in commitment to outreach, mission work, and supporting those in need.

Instead of undertaking their yearly 20-mile walk around the City of Boston, Farnsworth explained that they mapped a route through town.

“Hal Woodbury and George Smith made 12 miles; my daughter and I added some extra mileage to it to make it 20.”

After setting their course, the four participants started walking from the Wil­mington Ma­sonic Lodge on Sunday at 8 a.m. The Farnsworths went out of their way to walk by the houses of the people who had donated in support so that they could wave and cheer them on.

What amazed the team this year was how much people were willing to give in support.

“I think people really recognized the need for support of folks who need food and security. Even though most people

are struggling themselves with unemployment, they were very generous,” Farnsworth said.

Their $5,200 raised is the largest number she re­members their group ever raising, even when they’ve had 20-30 participants be­fore.

The call to action on Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger page reads: “As the impact of the coronavirus makes itself felt in the United States, those who already struggle to get enough to eat are go­ing to face extra burdens in the month to come: the burden will come in the form of school closings that will affect children who rely on school meals for their daily nutrition needs. It will come in the form of not being able to stock up on staples in case of quarantine because of the limits to SNAP (food stamps) benefits. It will come in the form of the need to buy groceries and pay rent, bills and medical expenses, despite lost wa­ges. It will come in many and devastating ways we can’t even envision right now.”

An email from Project Bread President Erin McAleer sent to Farns­worth on Monday estimated that as many as 38 percent of households in Massachusetts face challenges getting the food that they need and de­serve.

Anyone interested in do­nating to the WUMC Walk for Hunger fundraising team can go to projectbread.org/walkforhunger, click donate, and find the Wilmington UMC Youth team.

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