HARVARD -- Cool temperatures and clouds were described by participants in the 30th Annual Good Friday Walk as the "perfect conditions" for a walk.
Beginning on Still River Road at the Harvard Congregational Church, the five-mile circuit coursed through the quaint center of Harvard, taking walkers down wooded roads, past views of Mount Wachusett and past a stop near the Fruitlands Museum, a location that served as the half-way point rest area.
A large percentage of the proceeds raised were donated directly to Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry (www.loavesfishespantry.org, and the remaining proceeds went to Sharing, Inc., an organization that helps the poor in the rural south. Each dollar that Loaves & Fishes receives buys five pounds of food, helping "our neighbors" significantly.
Becca Day-Newsham, a key organizer for the Good Friday Walk, who walked the course with friends from Harvard and Groton, said, "With this year's walk falling in mid-April after this particularly long winter, snow gave way to a clear path for the roughly 200 walkers who made their way along the 5-mile, scenic route to raise money for Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry & Sharing, Inc."
This year's Good Friday Walk was host to walkers from 27 towns, who covered more than 1,000 miles and collectively raised $23,471 for Loaves & Fishes and Sharing, Inc. There were also many volunteers behind the scenes making sure the walkers were supported every step of the way, including a "Toe Truck," which circled along the route for relief and transportation, had there been a need.
After the Good Friday Walk, inside the Harvard Congregational Church, sandwiches, fruit and drinks were provided for participants as they completed the five-mile walk. Volunteers helped to greet guests, serve refreshments and run the registration throughout the day.
For many, participating in the Annual Good Friday Walk has been a long tradition. Walkers came from several surrounding towns, with some former Harvard residents coming from as far away as New York.
Seventy-eight-year-old Ruth Broughton of Ayer postponed a trip to Florida with her family so that she wouldn't miss her 36th occasion in a row to walk, the first six years taking place in Hingham. Wearing a headset, she was listening to, "The Boston Pops, of course!"
With a spirited pace, Broughton was completing her third of four trips around the 5-mile circuit for a total of 20 miles, having walked "six laps one year for a total of 30 miles!" she said. "A friend of mine offered me $100 per mile that year, and I collected on the $3,000 for Loaves and Fishes," Broughton continued humbly.