The Friends of the Poor® Walk/Run began as a national program with the purpose of providing the local Society of St. Vincent de Paul Conferences and Councils the additional funds to help support their special works projects.  Today, that philosophy continues with Conferences and Councils using the funds from this event to help people living in poverty.

A special Saturday stroll on Oct. 5 is a chance to get fresh air and exercise while helping the Society of St. Vincent de Paul raise money to help Benicia’s less fortunate. Participants joining the Friends of the Poor Walk/Run are asked to donate $100 each and will get a T-shirt, said President Kristine Passalacqua. “We’re hoping for 100 walkers.”

Some of the money will buy groceries for Benicians struggling to make ends meet. Donations also buy them dinners and gifts at Christmas and dinner boxes at Easter. The donations also help people pay utility bills, a growing need in Benicia, according to Passalacqua. “So many of those we serve – our neighbors – are one paycheck away from disaster,” she said. “We had three families (at the start of school) who said they didn’t have money for new clothes. It’s very hard to afford living in California.” She said many are working harder and longer hours, “But they can’t keep up.” Fortunately, other Benicians are generous with their help.

Like many conferences, the local St. Vincent de Paul has a church ally – St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, 475 East I St. In months with a fifth Sunday, a special collection takes place after mass services, and the local generosity extends to others in need. For instance, after Santa Rosa and Napa suffered from enormous wildfires, conference volunteers accepted money donations while the Knights of Columbus raised money through a breakfast. The church’s school organized a walk. Those combined efforts raised $30,000 from one church. “People in Benicia dug deep in their pockets,” she said.

Those in need may leave requests at 707-746-1773.

Passalacqua is hoping Benicians’ generosity will extend to the Oct. 5 walk. Registration is done online, at Check-in starts at 8 a.m., Oct. 5 at the City Park gazebo at Military and First Street, and the walk begins there at 9 a.m.