More than 200 local residents came out in support of this year’s Good Friday Walk for Shelter.
The 4.5-mile walk, sponsored by the Liberty County Homeless Coalition, began and ended at Victory Assembly of God on Gen. Stewart Way, a route that wound through downtown Hinesville and back.
Before starting out, participants were given a safety briefing that discussed the route and rules for the walk, to include no pets being allowed on the walk. They were told if for any reason they felt like they couldn’t continue, they should cross their arms above their head and wait for someone to come by and pick them up.
Several hardy participants ran the entire walk. The rest began as a tight group, which spilled over the sidewalk onto the shoulder of the road and in the grass on the other side of the sidewalk. Some couples walked arm in arm.
As they moved up the sidewalk along Gen. Stewart Way, the walkers began to spread out. Women pushing strollers followed after the larger group while older participants moved along at a slow, steady pace.
The walk started at noon, and the slower participants were back by 1:30 p.m., including Victory Assembly Pastor Douglas Harn, vice president of the homeless coalition.
“I am wore out,” Harn, said, joking about his preparation for the walk. “About the only training I did was work my way up to being able to walk to the refrigerator and back five times.
“Really though, we want to thank everyone for their support, including the (Hinesville) Police Department, the sheriff’s department, Heritage Bank, Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign War — I can’t think of everybody at this time, but we appreciate them. I do want to thank Walthourville Mayor (Daisy) Pray for coming out and walking with us.”
Harn, who prayed for the walk before the walkers left the church parking lot, said God blessed this year’s walkers with perfect weather. Tim McIntosh, who headed previous walks, said most people were unable to finish last year’s walk because of rain. He said he was sitting out this year, having been the event coordinator for a couple of years. And though he’s not responsible for the event anymore, McIntosh said he has helped out wherever he can.
“I’ve taken a step back this year and let the coalition take over completely,” McIntosh said. “It’s time for that transition. It’s now their program.”
McIntosh said that before 2014, the Good Friday walks started at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Shaw Road and ended in downtown Hinesville. Much of that route did not have sidewalks, which made it more difficult and put the walkers at greater risk from traffic.
Many of the walk’s supporters stayed behind at the church while others set up water stations along the route. Heritage Bank employees greeted Friday’s walkers with water bottles at the traffic circle on Memorial Drive.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Curtis with Omni Financial said he supported the walk as a representative for his company. He said they made a donation in support of the walk and offered assistance wherever it was needed for the walk and for the coalition’s efforts to help the homeless in Liberty County.