May 24, 2018 | ° F

Participants trot for local hunger awareness

Walkers of all ages trotted around Buccleuch Park on Sunday afternoon to raise awareness for world and local hunger during the  “3K Turkey Trot Walk.”

More than 500 “trotters” including Middlesex County residents, University student groups, chefs and musicians raised $32,341 in donations as of yesterday, with plans to have the final number by later today, said Lisanne Finston, executive director of Elijah’s Promise.

 “Elijah’s Promise heavily depends on [monetary] contributions from friends in the community and cannot raise funds without them,” said Michelle Wilson, Development and Community Relations director of Elijah’s Promise.

Pam Johnson, a chef at Elijah’s Promise, said the soup kitchen is more ambitious this year in advocating for its cause.

“Today Elijah’s Promise is trying to raise $60,000. Last year we raised $50,000, so this year we’re hoping to go a little higher,” Johnson said.

Each meal served costs $2.50, so $10 donated will be enough to feed four people, said Rachel Weissenburger, a University senior administrative assistant who volunteered at the event.

Jaimie Vennell, an Elijah’s Promise public relations intern, attended the event on behalf of the Civic Engagement and Service Education Partnerships, an on-campus organization created to support public service.

“When I first started this, I have to admit, I wasn’t as excited as I am now,” said Vennell, a University alumna. “But with the economic situation we have going on, people don’t think that the middle class, working class needs that much help, but they really do.”

Vennell, who researched hunger issues and repeatedly volunteers with Elijah’s Promise, said the soup kitchen reaches out to more people than just those who are homeless.

“Elijah’s Promise doesn’t just help the homeless and people that are starving, but the people that can’t meet ends sometimes,” she said. “When they have kids or they work all the time, [the soup kitchen] really [is] such a big help.”

Phi Kappa Psi, a University fraternity, appeared at the event for its second year to show support for Elijah’s Promise because of the soup kitchen’s credible reputation in the New Brunswick community, said Alvin Leung, the fraternity’s fundraising chair.

“Elijah’s Promise is a local food kitchen that makes a huge difference,” said Leung, a Rutgers Business School senior. “A lot of people donate to large organizations where you don’t know where donations are going to. But with Elijah’s Promise, you know that it’s going to help people in the local area.”

Nikhil Guddeti, the Phi Kappa Psi’s philanthropy chair who attended the event for the first time, said the “Turkey Trot” was an eventful experience.

“We raise money ahead of time. We come here hours before the event, we come out to put up signs, put up tables [and] man the stations,” said Guddeti, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

The Chris Trotta Project, a musical group, performed at the event to entertain participants along the 3K path.

“We are volunteering our talents and our time. We had done a charity event at Pheasant’s Landing and they invited us back to ‘Turkey Trot,’” said band member Chris Trotta.

Joe Tivade, a fellow band member, said his group wrote a song about the homeless population in New Jersey for Elijah’s Promise, called “Visible Silence.”

By Lisa Anna Migliore

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