Members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Oceanside are asking the community to take part virtually in its largest fundraiser, the annual Friends of the Poor Walk and 5K, Sept. 26 to Oct. 3.
The virtual walk and 5K are being hosted by the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Long Island, which is based in Bethpage and has several conferences, one of which is St. Anthony’s in Oceanside. The event will also take place across the country around the same dates.
“Because of the pandemic, we don’t have the same capabilities we had in the past to raise funds to help the community,” said Janet Calderon, chairwoman of this year’s local 5K. “But we can still walk independently, swim, jog — do whatever it is you do to contribute to this fundraising.”
Participants are encouraged to walk, run, jog, bike, swim or paddle 3.1 miles, privately or with friends and family, throughout the week of the virtual event. Once a participant signs up, others can sponsor and donate to support the Society’s Oceanside conference. Youth participants can receive three hours of community service credit.
The Oceanside conference is a major source of community aid, and the 5K is its largest fundraiser of the year. The charity group, which conducts outreach at St. Anthony’s Parish, also receives funds from church donations. Members vet requests from local families in need and give monetary donations to help those whose re-quests are accepted.
Calderon noted that because of the pandemic, which has caused illness and unemployment for many, the committee has seen more requests than usual. Led by conference President Pat Fox, nearly 30 members meet biweekly to help process requests and advocate for residents in need.
“If a person in the community has a problem, they come to us and say they need help,” Calderon explained. “Either they’re sick and making little on disability, or they’re barely making rent, for example, and assuming their request is approved, then we issue a check either for rent, utility, mortgage, food, furniture, or maybe psychiatric or spiritual support.
“Whatever that need is,” she said, “we assess and try to solve that problem.”
The St. Vincent de Paul Society also runs a food pantry at St. Anthony’s, as well as frequent clothing drives. The group has been a staple at St. Anthony’s since 1969 and serves roughly 300 families each year.
There are several society members, who call themselves Vincentians, who are helping to promote and run the virtual 5K this year, including co-chairs Calderon, Catalina Guttilla, Jane Magno-DeAnna. Carolyn Hughes, Marie Rey and Missy Androu.
To register for the Friends of the Poor Walk and 5K, visit runsignup.com/Race/NY/Bethpage/FriendsofthePoor5KVirtualWalkRun2020. For more information about the virtual event, email email@example.com or call (516) 400-2910. For more information about St. Vincent de Paul Society of Oceanside, visit sacli.org/st-vincent-de-paul.