shutterstock.com

Nearly 400 walkers recently joined together at Bishop Amat High School to learn about poverty in the San Gabriel Valley, to raise funds for Catholic Charities San Gabriel, and to get a little healthy outdoor exercise with friends and family. Participants — from infants to those in their 80s — raised about $6,000 for the third annual “Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need.” Organizers noted that participation was up 55 percent from last year’s event.A Lenten theme permeated the morning activities. Msgr. James Loughnane, San Gabriel Region parochial vicar, offered the opening prayer before walkers (and a few runners) circled the school track to honor the pledges they had previously gathered. Surrounding the track and in the stands, posters with facts and photos illustrating the truth about local poverty: “12,000 children in the San Gabriel Valley do not have a home,” “In a given month, 35 percent of LA food pantry recipients have had to choose between medical cost and food,” “20 percent of LA children live in poverty. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region serves about 18,000 children a year.” Teens earned service hours by “making tracks” and using posters as a way to answer questions about Catholic Social Teaching and local poverty. In addition, the day also featured face-painting, Zumba dance, a Tiny Tots 50-meter dash, dizzy-bat, kids’ place child care, and prizes for practically everyone. “Everyone left with a greater understanding of why and how to serve Christ in the poor,” says Anne Wrotniewski, case manager at Catholic Charities who helped organize the event. “Their sweaty brows show that their work had already begun!”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0308/sgwalk/{/gallery}