In memory of Mark Petrosky, Parish House’s Oct. 1 Hunger Walk aims to combat hunger around the holidays

BUCKHANNON – It’s time to pull out those tennis shoes, gather up some canned goods and register to make a difference in local people’s lives by participating in the Mark Petrosky Memorial Hunger Walk on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.

The event begins at the Parish House, located at 68 College Ave., and will help gather food and monetary donations for the Parish House Holiday Food Boxes and regular food boxes distributed through the food pantry.

The walk starts with registration at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 1 and begins at 9 a.m. It will continue from the Parish House and proceed through the Buckhannon Riverwalk, covering approximately 1.5 miles. Participants are asked to donate nonperishable items or make a monetary donation of at least $5, and those walking are encouraged to wear orange clothing which supports Hunger Awareness Month and helps the walkers stand out.

The Mark Petrosky Memorial Hunger Walk is being coordinated by Parish House Volunteer Hali Westcott, who attends West Virginia Wesleyan College and is a Wesleyan Service Scholar. Westcott said she hopes the community and WVWC campus community come together in the fight for food insecurities.

“I feel it is important to combine the communities in this quest,” Westcott said.

Upshur Parish House Executive Director Kristi Wilkerson said the event will assist in fighting food insecurity among neighbors in Upshur County.

“Several years ago, the Parish House participated in a Crop Walk to raise awareness regarding those facing hunger in the region,” Wilkerson said. “We no longer have the Crop Walk but wanted to revise the idea of a Hunger Walk in Upshur County. We know that around 20 percent of Upshur County residents consistently fall below the poverty line and that in West Virginia, seven out of 10 children face food insecurity of some kind. The purpose of this walk is to help fight food insecurity and share these startling statistics with others.”

Wilkerson said monies raised and food items donated will support the Parish House food pantry and Holiday Food Box program.

“My hope is that we collect a good number of items needed for Thanksgiving and Christmas Food Boxes especially,” she said. “We also know that the price of turkey has gone up this year, so additional monetary donations will be used so that we can purchase turkey for the Thanksgiving Food Boxes.”

The Hunger Walk is offered in memory of Mark Petrosky, an Upshur Parish House volunteer who passed away in November 2021. Petrosky attended the First United Methodist Church of Buckhannon and the Victory Apostolic Church. He was a U.S. Army Veteran, and he served two tours in Iraq as well as serving in the Reserves and National Guard.

Wilkerson said Petrosky was a dedicated volunteer who started serving in the Parish House food pantry when an illness prohibited him from working.

“He volunteered with us for as long as he possibly could,” Wilkerson said. “He became part of our Parish House family. When he passed, several of his family and friends made contributions to our food pantry in his memory. We named the Hunger Walk in his memory to honor him – he truly led a life of service to his community and his country. He was a proud veteran and father.”

Longtime Parish House volunteer Dave Rowan said everyone who came to the Parish House and those who work there really liked Petrosky.

“He was a good worker, and he always had a big smile on his face,” Rowan said. “He was always so polite to everyone, and everyone really liked Mark. I hope this Memorial Hunger Walk will be a great success with lots of participation from the community and college.”

Suggested nonperishable items for donation include boxes of instant mashed potatoes, canned green beans, boxes of stuffing mix, canned gravy or gravy mix packages, Jiffy pie crust mixes, evaporated milk, cranberry sauce, canned sweet potatoes, canned corn, canned pork ‘n beans, boxed cake mixes, canned yams, frosting, grape jelly, canned fruits, oats, canned beans, canned tuna or chicken, past sauce, dish soap, toilet tissue, feminine hygiene items and hygiene items.

Since 1992, the Upshur Parish House has supported neighbors in need, providing food, utility and rent assistance, clothing, back-to-school supplies and backpacks and much, much more. Currently the Upshur Parish House provides around 650 Holiday Food Boxes for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Their food pantry also serves around 75 to 100 families per week.

The Upshur Parish House is open Monday through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. Additional information about the services provided by the Upshur Parish House is available on their Facebook page, by visiting Parishhouse.org, by emailing upshurparish@gmail.com or by calling 304-472-0743.

Wilkerson said she hopes folks will consider participating in this special event.

“I am particularly excited that our Wesleyan Service Scholars have taken the lead in coordinating the walk and that this will certainly be a combined community and campus effort,” she said.

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