A man on a Walk for Hunger through all 55 counties in West Virginia soon will come to this part of the state.
Tom Knopp, director of the Good Samaritan Center in Wayne County, plans to walk 25 miles in every county to raise awareness for the hungry. He also will raise money for the state's two food banks and local community food pantries along the way.
He began his journey April 22 at the Cabell County Courthouse. Resting on Sundays, he is scheduled to make his journey in 65 days and end in his home county June 24.
He is scheduled to come through the following counties at these dates: Lewis on May 16; Upshur on May 17; Barbour on May 18; Tucker on May 20; Hardy on May 27; Grant on May 28; Pendleton on May 29; Randolph on May 30; and Pocahontas on May 31.
Volunteers, churches, businesses and a host of groups are helping Knopp by coordinating travel, overnight accommodations, meals and speaking engagements in every corner of the state. Additional volunteers are needed in some counties in the local region, including Upshur, Grant and Randolph, said Barb Melvin, one of the main organizers.
Melvin said Upshur County currently needs a coordinator as well as other volunteers. Grant and Randolph counties also could use additional volunteers, who can help with fundraising efforts.
She said churches can help by agreeing to have a special offering for the Walk for Hunger.
"If anyone is interested in helping, please just give us a call," Melvin said, adding that the walk has been going great so far.
"It's about making connections with people ... and soliciting help for their local food pantries," she said. "Each county is doing different things."
She said Knopp walked past an elementary school in one county, where students, teachers and parents lined up to chear for him.
In another county, Knopp was able to speak to a Rotary Club.
"He is keeping a journal, which is a good thing," Melvin said. "He has so many stories to share."
Knopp, who is nearly 69 years old, has been preparing for this mission for more than a year, walking 15 to 20 miles nearly every day in the early hours before opening up his barber shop. Knopp also has a reputation for raising awareness of needs.
Once, when funds at the Good Samaritan Center were critically low, he went out on the street and lived like a homeless person, hoping to raise around $9,000 and vowing to stay on the streets until he did. It took 17 days and folks gave more than $14,000. Another time, needing $75,000 to purchase the current Good Samaritan Center building and remodel it, he vowed to walk 10 miles for every $100 given.
He raised $90,000 and as promised he walked 900 miles.
West Virginia has 17.5 percent of the population below the poverty level, according to a press release about Walk for Hunger. Knopp hopes publicity regarding his walk will touch the hearts of folks throughout the state to work together in their counties to support their local food pantries and the state's two food banks.
Anyone who would like to help, make a donation, ask for Knopp to speak to a group or church, or simply meet Knopp and even walk with him can follow his journey by visiting www.walkingouthunger.org or calling Melvin at 304-751-7921 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.