Interfaith Action’s Walk for Warmth commemorates Martin Luther King Jr.


Joanne Haner/The Daily Northwestern

Participants of Interfaith Evanston’s annual “Walk for Warmth” met outside of First Union Methodist Church Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Iris Swarthout, Assistant Campus Editor

About 500 Evanston residents and members of various religious congregations gathered at First United Methodist Church Monday morning to participate in Walk for Warmth, where community members walked two miles in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy.

While the event was free, anyone could donate to the sponsor of the event: Interfaith Action of Evanston, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving community members who are hungry or without homes. The group organized its first Walk for Warmth three years ago, according to President of Interfaith Action’s Board of Directors Melissa Appelt. She said she was initially skeptical that the event would work out. 

“It was such a big idea, and we are a very tiny board,” she said. “I was uncertain that we could pull it off, but we did that first year. It was remarkable.”

Appelt said the funds raised during the walk will go toward some of the organization’s volunteer efforts, including increasing staff and other resources at its emergency overnight shelters. She added that Walk for Warmth also opened Warming Centers during the pandemic to aid community members who had nowhere else to go.

The funds will also go toward the Hospitality Center, which provides computer training and employment help and the Producemobiles, which provide free fruits, vegetables and hygiene products to those who qualify, and local soup kitchens. 

Anne Heinz, the chair of the organizing committee for the event, said part of the point of the walk was to expand Interfaith Action’s services and to extend the organization’s work to a younger generation. After her daughter-in-law gave her advice on social media marketing, she said Interfaith Action has tried to use social media to reach a broader audience. 

Heinz added that increasing awareness of Walk for Warmth and Interfaith Action online was a step towards increasing funding for the organization’s various community outreach centers, including the homeless shelters. 

“The first inspiration actually (for the walk) was to support the expanded opening of the shelters,” she said. 

Evanston resident Jon Shay said the event was a strong show of support for different local churches.

He added that he and his wife mainly decided to attend the event as a way to pay respect to King’s legacy.

“Walks were a big part of the Civil Rights Movement and even though there’s no civil disobedience here, I think that connection (to King) is still very strong,” Shay said. 

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Twitter: @swarthout_iris

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