Rachel is a reporter/contributor for the AJT and graduated from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. After post graduate work at Columbia University, she teaches writing at Georgia State and hosts/produces cable programming. She can currently be seen on Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters.
Over 7,000 Hunger Walk/Run participants made it to Georgia State Stadium despite the bad weather Feb. 25. (Photo by John Boydston)
Atlanta’s Hunger Walk/Run often falls during one of the weekends of the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, but even when it doesn’t, AJMF helps provide entertainment even while finalizing preparations for the spring festival.
This year’s 34th Hunger Walk was no exception, although the rain Sunday, Feb. 25, did cause a change of plans.
Tony Levitas and the Levitations were supposed to represent AJMF at Georgia State Stadium during the afternoon festivities, including a 5K walk and a fun run, but festival Director Russell Gottschalk said there was too much rain to stage a band. Instead, AJMF provided music with a DJ.
Some 7,000 people signed up for teams to raise money for the Atlanta Community Food Bank and other nonprofits that support food pantries, community kitchens and other programs for people in need of food assistance.
The Jewish community had 38 teams registered a few days before the walk, and teams were still signing up.
The Hunger Walk in its history has raised over $9 million for hunger relief, enough to provide 36 million meals.
Forty percent of the money raised by teams under the umbrella of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta goes to the food bank. The rest is distributed to hunger-based organizations chosen by the Federation. Last year, 14 organizations split that 60 percent share.
“We’re so excited to have joined with the Atlanta Community Food Bank in this incredible community event,” said Stephanie Wyatt, the vice president of engagement and leadership development for Federation. “Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is proud to be one of the five faith-based partners helping to end hunger in Atlanta.”
Last year’s Hunger Walk raised more than $900,000; as of Tuesday afternoon, as donations were still coming in and numbers still being tallied, the total was about $578,000.
Of that amount, just below $70,000 had been credited to teams that signed up under Federation’s umbrella.
As usual, the top team this year is Sally’s Friends, led by Sally Kaplan, who typically brings in $35,000 to $45,000 per year and is the biggest individual fundraiser in Hunger Walk history.
Her mother began raising money for the food bank, then Kaplan followed her lead, and now her daughter Rebecca serves as one of the co-chairs of the event and makes it a priority for herself.
A few days before the event, Kaplan had raised $25,000.