For more than 20 years, Sarah-Ann Pollock , 74, has taken part in the annual Walk for Hunger. She admits that it is not as easy as it used to be, but yesterday she once again completed the 20-mile pledge walk because she wants to encourage others to support the cause.
"I never stop," said Pollock, of Mission Hill, who raised more than $500. "I hope I've raised awareness that people in Massachusetts are hungry."
More than 43,000 walkers raised $3.3 million at the 39th annual Walk for Hunger, which began and ended on Boston Common and weaved through Brookline, Newton, Watertown, and Cambridge. According to Project Bread, the East Boston-based nonprofit agency that organizes the walk, nearly 450,000 state residents don't have enough to eat.
"It's a really great day for low-income people in Massachusetts," said Ellen Parker , executive director of Project Bread.
The walk supports 400 food pantries, soup kitchens, food banks, and food salvage programs in 135 communities statewide.
"There's shame involved in saying you don't have grocery money," said Gerie Crofton of Marshfield, a volunteer for Project Bread who said she was motivated in part by her family history: Her ancestors emigrated from Ireland to escape famine.
"You're not supposed to be hungry in America," Crofton said.
At the finish line, hundreds of volunteers handed out cups of water and cheered on walkers as they crossed.
Shermel Richardson , who participated in her second walk yesterday, said she felt like a baseball player with her fans standing on the sidelines.
"It's about the adrenaline rush," said Richardson, 25.