ARLINGTON — Nearly two dozen walkers made their way from the former site of the Arlington Community Food Bank, at Haller Park, to its new location at the Arlington Municipal Airport, to signify their support for those in need in the community.
More important than the 3.2 miles that the 22 walkers completed on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 29, was the $791 in donations that they raised between them for the Arlington Immaculate Conception Church Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
“We distribute our money to aid the poor within our community,” said Larry Bell, president of the Arlington Immaculate Conception Church Conference. “Our biggest shares of money go to the PUD to help pay for their water and other utilities, but we also pitch in a lot of food as well.”
“We chose to walk from the old to the new food bank because those are landmarks to those in need,” said Conference Vice President Rose Marsh, who explained that this year’s Friends of the Poor Walk marked the Arlington community’s first participation in the worldwide event that’s been running for three years.
Bell expressed pride in the amount of donations, since he’d only expected Arlington’s first Friends of the Poor Walk to generate between $200 to $300, so he’s already anticipating doubling the event’s attendance next year.
“Anyone can donate to us,” Bell said. “We have about the lowest overhead of any charity organization.”
“The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was started in 1833,” Marsh said. “We’re older than the Red Cross.”
The Arlington Immaculate Conception Church is one of 16 conferences in the North Sound Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. For the fiscal year 2011, the Arlington Immaculate Conception Church Conference helped 1,284 clients, made 234 home visits to those in need and put in a total of 1,415 volunteer hours between them.
“We help all people, whether they’re Catholic or not, whether they’re even religious or not,” Marsh said.
Father Jim Dalton, the senior priest who recently retired from the Arlington Immaculate Conception Church, has used his retirement from full-time ministering to walk every morning, so he was feeling more than fit enough for the Friends of the Poor Walk.
“Having a heart for the poor is what this parish is about,” Dalton said. “This is a great ministry, and this is just one of the ways they show it.”
Those who could use assistance from the North Sound Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul can call 425-335-3504, ext. 3, while those who wish to donate furniture and other household items can call 425-335-3504, ext. 3.