What does a 5K “Fun Run” have to do with helping to clothe and feed the hungry and homeless? Plenty, especially if you’re the Diocese of Orange of the Roman Catholic Church.
As running teams are forming in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Diocese of Orange, the inaugural Christ Cathedral 5K will be held from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Sept. 18 in and around the iconic Christ Cathedral campus. It is part of a health and community fair and a recreational and competitive 5K.
The Christ Cathedral 5K will benefit the Christ Cathedral Community Outreach Program, which is a continuation of the program started years prior by Crystal Cathedral Ministries.
The ministry distributes groceries to homeless and low-income families and provides meals several times per week on Christ Cathedral campus.
“In addition to providing basic needs, program volunteers focus on increasing the feeling of dignity, self-worth, and hope to accompany the rekindled faith that lies at the very core of each individual,” says Hank Evers, Director of the Orange Catholic Foundation. “They are truly treated like the brothers and sisters they are.”
While as many as 1,000 participants are expected to run in the Christ Cathedral 5K, the primary focus will be on the funds raised for the program, which is committed to serving populations with the lowest-income households in Orange County, according to Internal Revenue Service data. The IRS ranks two ZIP codes in Santa Ana, 92703 and 92701, as the Nos. 1 and 2 lowest-income households, respectively. ZIP codes in Garden Grove (92843), Midway City (92655) and two more in Santa Ana (92704 and 92707) are ranked third through sixth, while ZIP codes in Stanton (90680), Garden Grove (92844) and Anaheim (92801 and 92805), respectively, complete Orange County’s top-10 low-income rankings.
“This is really a ‘fun run,’ but we will have a solid group of competitive runners, in that our course has been certified and we have timing officials and chips,” says Lelani Bluner Kroeker of CLR Marketing Partners, which is helping to promote the event. “We anticipate 800 to 1,000 people and we have a real focus on growing team participation with teams being formed across all of our parishes.”
The Christ Cathedral Community Outreach Program started as a Monday meals program, in which volunteers provided a prepared sit-down lunch with a Bible study, according to program director Mary Lou Walters.
“They also had someone who would cut hair,” Walters says. “When they moved to the St. Callistus campus, they continued the Monday meals as part of their Shepherd Grove ministry. Christ Cathedral Community Outreach was begun at St. Callistus by Fr. Tuyen Nguyen about 14 years ago, then called St. Callistus Christian Services. The same volunteers continued the program as it is now at Christ Cathedral. We serve an average of 140 homeless individuals or families in need every week.”
Evers added that there are “many wonderful people from both ends of the age spectrum supporting this effort. Program volunteers periodically visit the river walk area where many homeless live along the sides and under the bridges to distribute essentials such as lanterns, flashlights, batteries, water, and personal hygiene products.”
Walters says the program has about 30 consistent volunteers and several youth joining alongside for their confirmation or high school service hours. Program volunteers distribute every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and again from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
“At 4:30, we pick up cooked pasta from The White House Restaurant (in Anaheim) and serve a sit down meal, adding salad and dessert,” Walters says. “At the end of July we will do a school supply distribution. We also have sit down meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas and provide food baskets for three major holidays. Christmas we have survival bags for homeless that includes about 30 items and toys for children from our parish Giving Tree.”
To preview the course route: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6915648