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Walk in their shoes

Event to support Marion homeless shelters

Participants in the Walk-A-Mile event walk to help the homeless

By Chrysa Keenon | Echo

A warm bed, a car, a coat, a quick walk to a medical facility. These are all things that can be taken for granted when forgetting the privileges we have as college students. The Grant County Walk-A-Mile event offers an opportunity to show support for those without access to such amenities.

The event, now in its 14th year, is hosted by the Grant County Rescue Mission (GCRM). The goal of the walk, according to Executive Director Rick Berberia, is to raise funds to support GCRM and raise awareness for citizens of Grant County to see and understand what those who live in homeless shelters must endure on a daily basis.

“There are a lot of things that we take for granted, like getting in a car,” Berberia said. Berberia proposed the situation of walking to a bus stop in below freezing weather. Homeless people face not only discomfort from the cold, but the danger which may follow being outside in negative windchill. Students know the discomfort of walking across campus when the windchill plummets. But for the homeless, walking through freezing weather to get to a job interview is part of their daily reality.

Registration for the walk is free, but donations are encouraged. Berberia also encouraged sponsoring a walker, or simply asking multiple people for a small donation. Last year, around 250 people participated in the walk. Berberia is hopeful for more participants this year, particularly on a group level. According to him, the goal is to get groups from churches or businesses together, and then for them to challenge one another to raise more money.

“If we had a group of, say, 10 people who said ‘okay each of us are gonna raise 20 dollars, so that’s 200 bucks,’ then they can challenge another group, saying, ‘hey we’re gonna raise at least two hundred, we challenge you to raise that much or more,’” Berberia said.

The mission planned on sending scouts to set up a booth in the Dining Commons on Wednesday, but were unable to do this due to weather. Still, Berberia is hopeful for attracting students from both Taylor and IWU.

According to Senior Director of Parent and Community Relations Joyce Wood, Taylor University has sponsored this event for two years. She is hopeful for students to get involved in the walk this year.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to be the hands and feet of Christ by supporting a local, worthy ministry in coming alongside those in need in Grant County – particularly those who need a home and some of the many opportunities the Mission offers,” Wood said. “ It’s an excellent way for students to share Christ’s love with those who are struggling – whether through homelessness, addictions, or other difficulties.”

According to Berberia, the GCRM served close to 70,000 meals last year, as well as provide people with a warm place to sleep and sponsoring Christ-centered programs that help better the mental, physical and spiritual health of men and women in the shelter. The Walk-A-Mile event provides a platform for people to learn more about the many programs that GCRM offers.

According to the GCRM Walk-A-Mile website, participants can register online or in person the day of the event. Registration and check-in starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday and the walk will begin at 10 a.m. The walk will start at the Grant County Family Y.M.C.A and end in the mission. Berberia said there will be breakfast served before the walk, and after the walk the mission will be open for tours. The event will also include a DJ, free hot chocolate and door prizes.

To sign up for the event, go to gcrmwalk.com.


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