NEW HAVEN — Hundreds who gathered at Lighthouse Point Park Sunday for the Connecticut Food Bank 2018 Walk Against Hunger were there to raise money for the cause, but in some cases the walkers were also getting a lesson.
“It’s important to realize how lucky we are to have food to eat,” said Jacqueline Brown, a leader in the Higher Heights Youth Empowerment Program who was captain for a team of 20, including high school students in the college preparatory program.
Brown said it’s important for her students to realize not only that “other families aren’t as privileged as we are” but to learn early about the importance of helping others and hopefully begin a life of helping.
The walk, 2.4 miles along Long Island Sound, raised about $90,000 — enough to provide more than 180,000 meals, food bank officials said. About 700 walked in the event, which also featured fun, music and food. The walk was presented by Subway Restaurants and The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation.
Walkers were on teams representing businesses, organizations, places of worship and more.
Nina Carmeli, 12, of Woodbridge, a veteran of the walk through her synagogue, Temple Emanuel of Greater New Haven, raised about $1,670 on her own as her Bat Mitzvah project.
On Sunday, she walked with a team of others from the synagogue, which in all raised more than $2,588 — including Nina’s share.
“I’ve been coming here for a long time,” said Nina, who for years has donated birthday and other gift money to the cause. “I love walking and I think it’s great to help in this community.”
In another case of youth taking the lead, Alex Labadia, 13, of Hamden, and a member of Bethesda Lutheran Church in New Haven, organized a team of 11 people, many of them youth, and his mom, Gail Labadia, couldn’t be prouder.
“I’m happy he spends his time, energy and fun helping other people,” she said of Alex.
The teen, captain of “Team Alex,” who has participated in the walk for about five years, said, “My mom always taught me about charity and giving back.”
There were plenty of corporate supporters as well.
Team Watson’s Walkers represented Watson Inc. of West Haven, a nutrition-oriented business involving nutrient additives.
Christina Cole, captain of the 45-member walking team and a marketing employee, said the company is active in the community and raised about $1,175 Sunday.
“A lot of our social activism focuses on making sure people get fed, have homes,” Cole said.
The Connecticut Credit Union League of Connecticut — representing several credit unions — did their part to raise money with a team as well.
“We firmly believe in the work of the Connecticut Food Bank…We feel like we’re partners in the fight against hunger,” said David Hinchey, director of communication. He said the organization’s foundation donated $10,000 to the food bank recently.