Hundreds took part in this year’s Good Friday Walk for Shelter. Some participants still were registering even as the walk began at noon.
Most walked but some ran the 5-mile trek that began at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church on South Main Street. Sticking to the grass on the left side of the road, the participants strolled down South Main Street through downtown Hinesville to Gen. Stewart Way, stopping at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.
“There are three reasons we’re doing this walk today,” said Adna “Deacon Chad” Chaffee of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. “For one, we’re walking today to remember that our Lord had to walk on Good Friday when he carried his cross to Calvary. We’re walking to alert the community about homelessness. And we’re walking to raise funds to prevent homelessness in Liberty County.”
Pastor Doug Harn of Victory Assembly of God and vice president of the Liberty County Homeless Coalition, said the funds raised from last year’s walk were distributed to Hinesville’s Homeless Prevention Program, the Manna House and the Kirk Healing Center for the Homeless. He said funds also were used to buy bus tickets for some homeless folks who were stranded in Hinesville as well as provide temporary housing for homeless individuals and families.
Harn said he and Baconton Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Hermon Scott, who also is president of the Homeless Coalition, started out at the head of last year’s walk but ended up around the middle of the group that finished the walk. Although the walk has considerable community support, regrettably, fewer than 10 percent of the churches in the community supported the event, he said.
Both Hinesville and Walthourville provided participants and support for the event. Steve Welborn, director of Hinesville’s Inspections Department ran, rather than walked. Other city employees, including public relations manager Krystal Hart, were content to walk.
Several members of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office participated in the walk, including Sheriff Steve Sikes and Captains David Edwards and Keith Jenkins, who chose to run. Edwards, in fact, was the first person to finish the walk. Jenkins came in fifth. Thomas Mitchell, 14, came in second. Ryan Victorian, 19, came in third, and Percy Price with Calvary Missionary Baptist Church came in fourth.
“I’m excited about what we’re doing for the homeless in Hinesville,” Scott said before beginning the walk. “We really appreciate the participation and contributions.”
A sort of spiritual pep rally preceded the walk in the sanctuary at Mt. Zion Church. Jim McIntosh, the event coordinator, explained the rules of the walk. He reminded participants to stay on the grass on the left side of the road and allow Hinesville police officers to assist with blocking traffic at intersections. He also noted the locations of water points along the route. McIntosh thanked Scott, Sikes and Bruce Muncher for helping with the event. He also said a fish fry held by the LCSO raised enough funds to replenish three food pantries.
Mt. Zion Pastor M.L. Jackson welcomed all participants but was brief with his comments. Regarding the walk, he said, “If you do right, God will bless it right.”
Harn also kept his comments brief and led the congregation in a prayer, thanking God and asking for His blessing for a safe walk.