On Sept. 30, on a crisp fall morning, approximately 300 people of all ages came together for the eleventh annual “Friends of the Poor” walk to benefit The Society of St. Vincent de Paul. It was the fourth time the walk has been held in Garden City Center and it is expected to raise nearly $50,000, as it did last year according to Renee Brissette, executive director of the Society.
Participants walked one mile around Garden City Center to raise awareness and funds for Rhode Islanders in need. The theme of the day was “Every Mile Counts.”
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a non-profit volunteer organization, with the mission of helping people create their own pathways to independence by assisting them with basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities while guiding them towards a self-sufficiency.
They currently have 33 parish-based conferences across the State of Rhode Island run by more than 600 volunteers. They differ from other basic human needs organizations and agencies in that they meet those in need in their homes, offering a hand in friendship to walk with them out of poverty, rather than giving a hand out. In total, they have 19 food pantries and 7 meal sites.
After the walk, participants gathered around the Gazebo for musical entertainment, pumpkin painting, face painting, games to win prizes, and vendor booths, with some offering food samplings.
Participants were asked to bring non-perishable foods, clothing, and new toiletries to donate to their Necessities Drive throughout the morning of the walk. Each person who donated was entered a raffle with a variety of prizes.
Kelly Bates from WJAR-10 was the honorary chair. They also had food samplings from Avvio, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, and Edible Arrangements. There was face painting, pumpkin painting, old fashioned games, and a blow-up obstacle course.