Many in Old Ottawa South will remember the “Walk for the Centre” which runs every fall to promote awareness of food insecurity for many in our city, and to raise funds for the Centretown Emergency Food Centre. The Centre serves a large central catchment area including OOS, and has students, seniors, recent immigrants, and rooming house occupants amongst its clients. In addition, the Food Centre’s 90-plus volunteers include a number of OOS residents. Several neighbourhood churches are members of the Centre’s parent organization and sponsor of the walkathon, the Centretown Churches Social Action Committee (CCSAC).
This year, the pandemic poses new challenges for us all. The economic consequences of the COVID-19 shutdown have been especially hard for lower-income residents, while pandemic guidelines mean many are isolated as well. The volunteers and staff at the Food Centre have managed to keep operating despite public health restrictions. They have changed the entire operation to maintain social distancing, and work with the discomfort of masks, gloves and frequent hand washing while sorting, shelving and bagging supplies and providing clients with bags of groceries.
As for the Walk for the Centre, it is going virtual! On Sunday, October 4, 2020, we are asking everyone who supports the need for greater food security in our city, or wishes to donate to the Food Centre, to come out and walk for this good cause. The Virtual Walk for the Centre runs from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm that day, and offers lots of options. This year, you can choose your own 2 or 4 kilometre walk in your own neighbourhood, on your favourite trail, or even on your treadmill at home! If you choose, you can do the lovely path around Parliament Hill, the route for the walkathon in past years. Go for a stroll on your own or with family members or others in your personal “bubble.”
Due to the pandemic, we are encouraging people to register and fundraise online. You can sponsor an individual, or a team, or sign up yourself to walk and secure your own set of sponsors. It is also possible to simply donate and not walk, if desired. Get a pledge form or make a donation by visiting the CCSAC website. If you are collecting money the traditional way, there will be a drop-off site for donations and pledge forms on October 4th. With the pandemic, location of the drop-off remains to be confirmed. Information will be available on the CCSAC website and Facebook pages closer to the date, so check us out there. We are also asking friends of the Food Centre to promote the walk on their social media sites or by carrying a poster on the day of the walk.
This is a very different year, and it will be a different Walk for the Centre, but the cause – and our theme of “neighbours helping neighbours” – remains the same. Plan to come out and walk on October 4th, and support a good cause!
As featured in the September 2020 OSCAR.