Food pantry encourages community to ‘help your fellow man’ with mall walk event

For the past two years, the Cherry Hill Food Pantry has held its Mall Walk to Fight Hunger.  Janet Giordano, the pantry’s executive director, said the organization has carefully saved the resulting funds in anticipation of the day when it might have to move.

Moving day came at the end of 2019, and with it a pile of bills and expenses as the nonprofit gets the new space up to snuff. Giordano said this year’s walk is more important than ever, as any of the funds raised will go toward refurbishing the Beechwood Avenue location. 

“This year, it’s just so important,” Giordano said. “There’s so many large bills and things we need to do here.”

The third annual Mall Walk to Fight Hunger will take place Sunday, March 29, starting at 1 p.m. at the Voorhees Town Center. The event is open to all ages and participants can register up until the day of the event.

The event was born three years ago when members of the pantry were discussing fundraising options. Giordano said staff had done the typical dinners and basket raffles, and were looking to do something a bit different, something that someone of any age could participate in. 

They settled on the idea of a mall walk, and the Voorhees Town Center has been a cooperative partner since the get-go. Unlike other area walks, the pantry’s walk isn’t dictated by weather. There’s also no pressure for participants to complete all three laps around the mall. Giordano said some people just come to watch and participate in some of the other activities taking place that day. 

The March 29 event will feature a DJ, raffles, face painting and a variety of other activities to appeal to a wide age demographic. Participants will receive a t-shirt when they register.

The panty is requesting a $25 donation from participants, but given this year’s increase in expenses, it is asking that those who can give $50 consider doing so. There’s no set fundraising goal, but in the previous two years the pantry has raised around $11,000 from the event. 

Giordano said the pantry hopes to raise enough to help tackle some of its larger renovation projects. One of the most costly repairs on their to-do list is creating a parking lot for the Beechwood Avenue site. Giordano said a tentative quote put the cost at $100,000 to construct. Meanwhile, indoors, the pantry still needs to be painted, the floors need work and the bathrooms have issues. 

While the pantry is open, volunteers are currently bringing food out to their clients’ cars. At their previous location, the pantry was set up like a grocery store, and clients could shop the aisles. Giordano’s hope is to get the new location set up the same way. 

“We are in operation, but not in the way we want to be operational,” she noted. 

All proceeds from the Mall Walk to Fight Hunger will help support the pantry’s mission to feed more than 650 area families. The day’s atmosphere is light, and there’s no pressure to perform, Giordano said. 

“It’s a fun way to help your fellow man.”

Participants can register for the walk ahead of time at cherryhillfoodpantry.org or on the event day starting at 1 p.m. The walk will start at 2 p.m. To find out more, visit cherryhillfoodpantry.org.