BANGOR, Maine — Brenda Davis knows that some Mainers have to choose between heating oil and food during the winter, so each October she starts a trek across the state to raise funds to put food on the table of those less fortunate.
Davis, executive director of Crossroads Ministries in Old Town, began the annual hunger walks eight years ago in partnership with the Maine Credit Union League to raise money and awareness about hunger in Maine.
It’s working, but more help is needed, she said Tuesday after taking the final steps of this year’s 650-mile hike.
“People are calling food banks and asking what they can do to help,” she said, standing inside the Eastern Maine Medical Center Federal Credit Union on Stillwater Avenue. Even so, “some pantries in the rural areas are having a hard time.”
This year’s Ending Hunger walk began at the Maine State Credit Union in Augusta, the top fundraising credit union from the last three years, and concluded Tuesday morning when Davis and two of her grandchildren, Justin, 4, and Brea, 3, walked through the doors of the EMMC FCU.
Jon Paradise, of the Maine Credit Union League, presented Davis with an enlarged $800 check from the league “to symbolize the eight years of the walking tour.”
This year, the Ending Hunger walk encompassed more than 62 communities and, for the fourth year running, hit every county in the state.
“She has gone to Van Buren, Machias, Ellsworth and Hermon,” Paradise said. “Down south, she’s been to Kittery, Augusta — literally from the top of the state to the bottom. She went west to Kingfield and east to Calais.”
Along the way, Davis visited food pantries in each community and issued $100 donations from the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger. At each of the credit unions she visited, Davis picked up a campaign contribution to support the cause, which this year totaled nearly $30,000, according to a press release from the league.
“Credit unions are about community and helping others, as well as financial services,” Paradise said. “When you have 13 percent of the population hungry, that’s a lot of people. In communities across Maine, that’s a reality.”
Over the last eight years of the walking tour, more than $170,000 has been raised, with Maine’s credit unions contributing more than $155,000 of that, the press release said.
The Campaign for Ending Hunger has raised more than $3.1 million to help end hunger in Maine since established in 1990 by the league of credit unions.
Davis has said that she was moved to walk for hunger by what she sees occurring all around her in the many communities that Crossroads Ministries serves.
This year, Davis showed her true commitment to the cause, taking only one day off after suffering a concussion and cuts and bruises on Nov. 22 when her gas fireplace exploded.
The hunger walk was “a place for me to recover,” Davis said in the press release.
“She’s a warrior,” Paradise said.