As Patty Edwards and Deb Wallace walked along Huber Village Boulevard early Tuesday morning, they had one thought on their minds.
"The sun is going to come up, and one-third of Westerville is either hungry or doesn't know where their next meal is coming from," Wallace said.
Wallace and Edwards, both employees of the Westerville Area Resource Ministry, are walking the perimeter of Westerville to raise awareness of the problem of hunger in the community.
Beginning at 6:45 a.m. for the past two weeks, the pair walked along Westerville's roads dressed in bright clothing, wearing signs that read, "Fight Hunger," and waving at passing cars.
Their walk was in honor of September as Hunger Awareness Month.
A significant portion of the Westerville community faces hunger challenges, Wallace said, but not enough people in the community are aware of it.
"Wherever we walk in Westerville, I guarantee we can find someone who is hungry," Edwards said.
Wallace said she came up with the idea to walk the city's perimeter to raise awareness. She said she wanted to find some action to commemorate Hunger Awareness Month rather than just talking about hunger.
"There are so many things that compete for our attention -- the election, news events, our own lives," Wallace said. "Sometimes I wish there were an audible alarm on someone who is hungry."
Each month, WARM continues to serve more and more people through its food pantry, Edwards said, and it's difficult to see that more and more people are facing hunger rather than seeing the problem decrease.
"When we throw out statistics, people are shocked" by the number hungry people in the community, Edwards said.
In August, WARM's food pantry broke its own service record, serving 469 people for the month.
"Hunger does exist in Westerville," Edward said.
"And it hurts. Our neighbors are hurting," Wallace added.
Wallace and Edwards expected to finish their trek around Westerville, which they estimate at about 22 miles, this week.
To finish out their push for awareness, they will join members of the Harlem Road United Methodist Church for their Hunger and Homelessness Awareness, spending the night outside, participating in educational activities and sleeping in cardboard boxes.
The awareness component is so important to WARM because people who know about the problem of hunger in the community generally want to help address it, Wallace said.
She said she wants people to know that WARM can help them to do that.
"People who know about the problem want to help," Wallace said. "We are an opportunity to help people, and we have opportunities to help people."