Coronavirus-stretched Worthington Resource Pantry seeks leg up with virtual 5K

GARY SEMAN JR.
ThisWeekNEWS.com
Volunteer Lulu Li loads food packages into a cart for home deliveries Sept. 17 at the Worthington Resource Pantry. The pantry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and is asking supporters to participate in a virtual 5K fundraiser.

The Worthington Resource Pantry, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, is asking supporters to shake a leg for a fundraiser.

The Virtual Stretch, a family-friendly virtual 5K run, walk or stroll, will raise money for the pantry from Saturday, Sept. 26, to Oct. 2.

The event emphasizes safe social distancing.

"With COVID, we had to go virtual," said Janet Blocher, who works for the pantry at 6700 Huntley Road. "And, certainly, with COVID, the need is so great this year."

Nick Linkenhoker, the pantry's executive director, said that the need for food donations has increased considerably during the pandemic.

From January to July, the number of new households using the pantry was 1,626, compared to 471 from the previous year, he said.

Just in the month of July, the pantry saw 1,570 visitors – a 90% increase from July 2019.

"We'd like to raise $50,000," Linkenhoker said. "We're close to getting there."

Linkenhoker said he, his wife, Jeanine, and his 18-month-old daughter, Helen, would participate in the Virtual Stretch.

A drive-up donation day will open the Virtual Stretch.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 26 in the parking lot of Keller Williams Capital Partners, 100 E. Wilson Bridge Road, people may donate much-needed food, personal-care items or financial contributions in a socially distanced way, Blocher said.

A $29 registration fee for the virtual 5K is required. Registrations will be accepted at thevirtualstretch.com through Sept. 26.

Registrants will be encouraged to raise additional funds for the pantry and will receive more prizes. Those who raise at least $2,500 will be entered into a raffle to win a week at a private beach house on Anna Maria Island, Florida, courtesy of Worthington-based COhatch, which rents coworking, events and office space to businesses and individuals throughout central Ohio.

Linkenhoker said organizers want participants to post pictures of the Virtual Stretch activities on social media.

"We want people to have fun with it, get out there, get moving, stay healthy and support the pantry while they're at it," he said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary

Nick Linkenhoker, executive director of the Worthington Resource Pantry, sorts produce for homebound deliveries Sept. 17 at the pantry. The pantry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and is asking supporters to participate in a virtual 5K fundraiser.