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Man to walk across WV to raise hunger awareness

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KENOVA, W.Va. (AP) — A food pantry official is embarking on a statewide walk to raise awareness for the hungry and money for the food banks that feed them.

Media outlets report Tom Knopp, director of the Good Samaritan Center in Kenova, plans to walk 25 miles in every county. Money raised from the walk will benefit the Huntington Area Food Bank and Mountaineer Food Bank, along with local community pantries.

According to the event's website, www.walkingouthunger.org , Knopp's goal is to raise $10,000 in each county.

The walk will start Monday at the Cabell County Courthouse. Knopp expects the trip to take 65 days, finishing in Wayne County on June 24.

Knopp, 68, plans to walk for about six hours each day. He'll walk six days a week, resting on Sundays. He has been preparing for the trip by walking up to 20 miles every day before opening his Kenova barber shop.

Knopp said unemployment has forced families to ask state food banks for help.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March was 7 percent, down three-tenths of a percentage point from February. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 17.5 percent of West Virginia's population lives below the poverty level.

"I've seen so many people in our state who can't afford to feed their families," Knopp said. "We urgently need your help to prevent children from going hungry.

"Loss of jobs has also reduced contributions to the nonprofit food banks. Local food pantries are dependent on the food banks which are operating on near emergency levels in some communities."

In Wood County, residents and various organizations are being asked to collect sponsorships and walk a mile with Knopp next Thursday. A potluck dinner is planned for Knopp the night before at Parkersburg's Good Shepherd Episcopal Church.

"We want to do our part here in Wood County," said Linda Crocker, the church's parish ministries coordinator.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.