I woke about 5:00 a.m., made a cup of coffee, and began to pack up. My tent was once again covered in frost. I’m waiting for a little warmer weather.
Leigh Ann met me in the morning. I began my walk down the old Canal Towpath. As I walked, I was very aware of all the history of the canals in our county. What an amazing amount of hard work it took to dig and operate the canals which helped our county to grow and prosper. I could almost picture the resources being transported in the carefully dug waterways. About 1 ½ miles, I saw the place where the woman I met in the middle of the night was sleeping. It was made of a tarp and cardboard boxes. How many of our communities in Licking County are housing our residents in these make shift shelters? The answer. Too many!!
On up the path, I walked under Interstate 70 and saw a memorial to a worker who had lost his life during the construction of the overpass. I had to stop, pause, and give thanks for his sacrifice to our community. So many in so many ways give of their lives to make Licking County a better place for all.
A little further up the way, I walked through a very beautiful covered bridge. What a gem from the past. Everybody ought to walk on a covered bridge like this once in their lifetime. Thanks Licking County for preserving our history in this way.
After I got off the towpath, it was only about another mile into Buckeye Lake. My first stop was at the Library to read a story to some adorable toddlers and preschoolers. I read a story about dogs and showed them my backpack which was bigger than most of them. They took turns trying to lift it. We had a great time together. Also at the library, I was greeted by someone from the Buckeye Beacon who interviewed me for a story. I was also contacted by Anna Jeffries from the Advocate doing a follow up story with me. I’m thankful for the media helping to share the story with our community.
Right before I left the Library the North Valley Bank presented us with a donation toward the 50 the United Way walk. I thanked them for their caring and generosity. It means so much too so many in our community.
After I left the Library, I proceeded to the Buckeye Lake Museum. What a great resource to the local community at Buckeye Lake. I learned so much about the region and its wonderful role in our community. Currently many are struggling in the area due to the reconstruction going on at the Buckeye Lake Dam. We all look forward to the completion of this massive project. At the museum Kay Hartman who is the volunteer coordinator with the Salvation Army joined us. We talked about Buckeye Lake and the struggle with poverty there for many. The Salvation Army will run a summer lunch program for many kids in the area who normally receive a free or reduced lunch during the school year. This upcoming summer the Salvation Army is anticipated to serve almost 40, 000 lunches to hungry kids throughout the county. United Way provides funding to this crucial program. Without these lunches many children would go hungry. Currently 1 out of every 4 children in our county is living with food insecurity. This is unbelievable considering we live in the richest nation in the world. Thank you Salvation Army for feeding our children!
After leaving the museum I walked to the Buckeye Brewery. They were going to give us a percentage of their profits for the day. There I had the opportunity to meet with some local folks and joined by a friend of 35 years who was on my first backpacking trip ever. Mike and I worked for a camp during my college days where we led backpacking trips for other youth all summer. Who would have guessed I would be using those skills today to help improve the lives of others. Thanks Mike for your friendship and for fostering a love of backpacking.
After the brewery, I began my walk toward the Etna community. Peggy Wells, a Buckeye Lake council member, walked with me. On my way on Route 79, I passed the Buckeye Lake Eagles Lodge where we stopped for a moment and was given a donation and shared my story with those who were curious. I met some down to earth people who cared about their community.
Peggy said goodbye and I thanked her again for a donation and for walking with us.
I then made my way eventually to the Keller farm. I arrived shortly after dark. As I got closer, I could hear the clapping and cheers of the Dream Achievers 4-H kids and parents who were welcoming me. They walked with me up the lane to the Keller farm where we had snacks and I shared with them about my walk and why I was doing this. We are blessed by the 4-H program in Licking County. The program provides a great way for kids to learn about new things by completing many different kinds of projects while giving back to their community. I look forward to seeing their booth at the Hartford Fair in August. Before they said good night they thanked me and took up a generous collection for United Way. Thanks so much. After they left, the Keller’s offered me the hospitality of a shower in their barn. Afterwards, I got out my sleeping bag and headed to sleep. Another wonderful day with lots of wonderful people!
Continue to follow Deb on the 50 the United Way journey. To donate toward 50 the United Way go to www.unitedwaylc.org/50donate