Community rallies to fight hunger in Rochester

Neighborhood House to benefit from second annual Scare Away Hunger Run/Walk

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published October 10, 2012

 Neighborhood House Junior Ambassadors at the 2011 Scare Away Hunger display booth.

Neighborhood House Junior Ambassadors at the 2011 Scare Away Hunger display booth.

Photo provided

ROCHESTER — During a season that celebrates all things scary, the Rochester Area Neighborhood House is inviting the community to help scare away the fears of those in need.

For the second year in row, Neighborhood House — a nonprofit dedicated to helping struggling local families move toward self-sufficiency — is hosting its Scare Away Hunger 5K Run/Walk and Autumn Family Fun event at Rochester Municipal Park Oct. 28. The event will be held rain or shine.

The main purpose of the event is to raise funds to support the programs the Rochester Area Neighborhood House offers to help local families in need with food, clothing, financial assistance and more.

“This is our largest fundraiser. I think we raised about $18,000 last year, and we hope to raise even more this year to meet the demands of our growing client base,” said Linda Riggs, executive director of Neighborhood House.

Patti Toma, who volunteered to coordinate the event with her husband, Dan, said a lot of people think Rochester is a wealthy area and that everyone has what they need.

“The truth of it is, a lot of people don’t have what they need and they can’t put the food on the table for their children. Sometimes people are making a decision between school supplies and food on the table, which is awful. Financial struggle is real here, too, so the whole point of the event is to try to raise money to help people that are struggling with those basic needs — food, clothing and emergency financial assistance,” she said.

Check-in for the 5K Run/Walk will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Kiwanis Pavilion, and Autumn Family Fun activities will start at 2 p.m. Fogler’s Greenhouse and Farm Markets will provide pumpkin-rolling races and an autumn themed obstacle course. Children of all ages can enjoy dance presentations by the RARA Dance Studio’s Select Performance Team, as well as face painting, crafts, a scavenger hunt and an art display from the students of Musson Elementary School, showcasing student representations of the Scare Away Hunger theme. All Autumn Family Fun activities are free.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Toma said. “Even if you are not a runner or you don’t want to walk the 5K, you can still come out and enjoy all the activities that we have for families.”

There will also be a raffle that includes various donated items — such as a $500 piece of jewelry from Tapper’s Gold Exchange. Anyone who brings a bag of nonperishable food items for the food pantry will receive a free raffle ticket.

The professionally chip-timed run/walk will begin at 3 p.m., and there will be prizes for male and female winners by age group. Registrations fees are $20 for students, $25 for individuals and $60 for families of up to six members. Those who register before Oct. 12 will receive a free event T-shirt, and those registering the day of the race will be charged an additional $5. Registration can be completed at www.scareaway or by mail.

The event wouldn’t be possible without major event sponsors Renaissance Capital Alliance and Citizens Bank, according to Toma.

“Not only are they donating money to make it happen, but they are also part of the whole planning process and serving as event volunteers. We’re really pleased to have them as a part of this program,” she added.

For more information about the registration process, the event, or other programs offered by Rochester Area Neighborhood House, call (248) 651-5836, or visit