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Friends of the Poor Walk a big step in helping those in need in the Highland Lakes

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — Every month, members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference of St. John the Evangelist and St. Paul Catholic churches in Marble Falls and Horseshoe Bay spread out across the community, reaching out to the poor and needy and offering them assistance and hope.

“We go out and make home visits, usually in twos, and call on the poor and the needy and help them with things such as paying electric bills, rent and water,” said Karen Jones, a society member. “We try to give them a hand up, not a hand out.”

On Sept. 28 at Johnson Park, 230 Avenue J South, the community can take a walk to help the Society of St. Vincent de Paul raise money for its mission as well as awareness of the issue of poverty. The 2013 annual Friends of the Poor Walk starts at 9 a.m. with registration at 8:30 a.m.

“It’s a free-will donation to join in on the walk,” Jones said. “We really see this event as a way to create awareness about poverty in our community. And it’s a way to give people the opportunity to help out.”

Participants don’t even have to walk. Though there is a course laid out, Jones said it’s OK if folks just show up and chat. Of course, people can walk, but the distance is left up to each person.

“They can walk a mile or they can walk more,” Jones said.

Another option in raising money is for individual walkers to solicit pledges from friends, family members or businesses. Organizations, groups and families also can form teams to not only go out and raise money but to walk the course together.

The local society already has been seeking corporate, business and other sponsorships. Jones said the society’s goal is to raise $20,000, which all stays locally to assist the needy and poor.

“We always welcome donations,” she added.

Along with the walk, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is hosting a silent auction the same day.

The Friends of the Poor Walk is a national effort. In 2012, more than 220 locations held walks with more than 19,000 people participating. The national effort raised more than $1.8 million.

Last year’s local event raised more than $18,000.

Jones said she hoped people would take a little time Sept. 28 to come out and at least see what the event is all about. People don’t need to be Catholic to attend or assist.

The same holds true when society members spread out across the community. Jones explained that when she and her husband volunteer, they typically receive 10 to 15 phone calls a day from people needing assistance. And the couple makes three to five home visits a day as well.

“And they don’t have to be Catholic for us to help them,” she said. “We help everybody we can.”

And the more funds the society has available, the more lives it can change.

Go to www.svdpusa.net/fop for more information or to register for the walk. People also can mail donations to: Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 201 Dalton Circle, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657.

daniel@thepicayune.com