PILOT MOUNTAIN — In this world of plenty, there are still many who have little. One local man put his foot down to help his neighbors in need. Hiking 35 miles in three days, Chuck Harmon aimed to bring awareness to the issue of childhood hunger.
As the food drive manager for Second Harvest Food Bank, Harmon has had up-close experience with families in need. More than 100,000 people in northwest North Carolina are uncertain how they will get their next meal, and Harmon pointed out that more than half are children.
“Regardless of how their families got into that situation, the children cannot provide for themselves,” Harmon explained. “That’s where the food bank comes in.”
Second Harvest has 400 partner agencies across 18 counties in northwest North Carolina. According to its website, “Second Harvest Food Bank’s ‘Stock the Shelves for Summer’ initiative and summer meal sites work to fill the summer nutrition gap for kids in need.”
For several years, Second Harvest has partnered with WXII-TV for an annual summer food drive. This year Harmon wanted to do something special to get people excited about giving. “The summer food drive has been slow in the past,” said Harmon. He planned a three-day hunger hike as the kick-off event to promote awareness.
On July 6, Harmon and Joe Kilar, also of Second Harvest, began the hike on Hanes Mill Road in Winston-Salem, and proceeded up Old Highway 52. Stopping in Rural Hall, Harmon led a talk about childhood hunger. Completing 15 miles the first day, they made it to King where they were greeted and spent the night at Village Outdoors on East Dalton Road.
The second day, and 10 more miles, found the hikers at The Living Room Coffee House and Winebar on Main Street in Pilot Mountain. “The Living Room had done a drive for Second Harvest at Christmas, so we knew it would be a good fit,” said Harmon. In addition to inspiring the crowd with his hike, Harmon brought along his guitar and banjo to play.
During the final 10-mile stretch, Harmon and Kilar were joined by Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson. The decision was made to move off the back roads to reduce the distance by five miles.
“Safety was our main concern, so we decided not to use an escort car thinking it would distract drivers,” Harmon explained.
The tour stopped at Chick-fil-A to collect donations.
“We had super hosts all along the way. Hampton Inn in Mount Airy was so kind to sponsor us for the night so we could rest our sore feet,” said Harmon.
The hike had its intended effect. “People stopped in the road to show their support and give donations,” said Harmon. During the three-day kick-off, 20,000 meals were collected for struggling families in the area.
The summer food drive will continue throughout the month of July. There will be collection locations for Second Harvest at a different location each Wednesday. The Elkin Rescue Squad will be a drop-off location on July 22.
Additionally, through the end of July, donations can be brought to locations along the hike route including The Living Room in Pilot Mountain and Something Different on Main Street in Mount Airy.
For more information on donating or to start a collection, contact Second Harvest at 336-784-5770.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.