ACRS Walk for Rice fights hunger—one grain at a time

Shawn Porter July 21, 2015 0
Che Sehyun gets walkers warmed up following a performance of his song “SOBEBA (So Breathe Easy and Be Aware)” on stage at the 2015 ACRS Walk for Rice on June 27. • Photo by Keoke Silvano

Che Sehyun gets walkers warmed up following a performance of his song “SOBEBA (So Breathe Easy and Be Aware)” on stage at the 2015 ACRS Walk for Rice on June 27. • Photo by Keoke Silvano

With the sun shining and spirits high, Asian Counseling and Referral Service’s (ACRS) 25th annual Walk for Rice raised more than $207,000 in proceeds, which support ACRS Food Bank.

As one of the most-used food banks in King County, ACRS Food Bank is the only food bank in Washington that regularly provides food for individuals with Asian and Pacific Islander diets. Common cultural food including rice, tofu, eggs, and fresh vegetables are available to more than 5,500 people a year. Most of these individuals are seniors over 65 and children under 18.

This year’s walk drew over a 1,000 community members to Seward Park in Seattle on June 27 to take part in the 2.5 mile walk and run.

Attendees enjoyed clear weather and good company while the opening ceremonies presented a cultural smorgasbord, from a traditional lion dance performance, set to booming drums, to a martial arts and weapons demonstration.

Derek Wing of Bastyr University and Thanh Tan from the Seattle Times emceed the walk and presented awards from ACRS to the Moriguchi family (team Niko Niko 17) and the Asian grocery and gift store Uwajimaya for the decades of support to the food bank.

“Food donations from Uwajimaya have made the food bank the special [place] it is for families of Asian American and Pacific Islander backgrounds to find foods they know from people they trust,” said ACRS Board President Vinod Nazareth.  “Further, generations of the Moriguchi Family have formed fundraising teams for Walk for Rice, personally raising funds and promoting the needs facing the most vulnerable in our communities.”

The Seattle Chinese Community Girls Drill Team saw off the participants as they began the walk. Taiko drummers beat their drums as participants who ran, followed by those who took a more casual approach and walked, crossed the finish line.

Featuring a culturally diverse and celebratory atmosphere, many participants of all ages, including many senior participants like volunteer April Eng from the ACRS Club Bamboo program, return every year for the walk, which serves as the primary source of funds for the food bank.

“Everybody’s invited,” said Eng. “Everybody from the community period.”

ACRS is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization offering a comprehensive selection of human services and behavioral health programs to AAPI in King County.
As the 25th annual walk, this year’s event reflects the ACRS’s ability to connect the region’s businesses, colleges, community groups, individuals, and families looking to make a difference.

Tbsseattle.org was this year’s top fundraising team, raising over $30,000. Many local sponsors including Group Health, City University of Seattle, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also donated to ACRS.

CenturyLink will match all food and funds raised for the ACRS Food Bank at a percentage up to $1 million nationally. Last year, an additional $79,240.45 was donated through this match.

Ellen Carruth was there on behalf of City University of Seattle and says their group has been working for about four months raising money through different community activities.

“Each year we do try to recruit student body, recruit personnel from the university, and this year we’ve got about 20 folks on the team and we’ve raised over $2,000,” Carruth said. “It’s been a lot of fun. We did a bake sale at school to raise money for the walk.”

In 2012, the USDA estimated that 405,000 Washington households struggled with hunger.

 ACRS Walk for Rice participant shows off their Walk for Rice themed jacket at the 25th annual ACRS Walk for Rice. •  Photo by Keoke Silvano

ACRS Walk for Rice participant shows off their Walk for Rice themed jacket at the 25th annual ACRS Walk for Rice. • Photo by Keoke Silvano

The Walk for Rice was founded in 1990 by Herb Tsuchiya, his late wife Bertha Tsuchiya, and friend Sam Mitsui. The first event took place on Beacon Hill where 45 walkers raised $1,800. When looking back on the first years of the walk compared to where it is now, Mitsui reiterates the feeling of so many others in regards to the walk’s success.

“The memory I always have, is the generosity of the community,” stated Mitsui via a press release. “Because without them, this could never have happened … that always amazes me.”

Editor’s note (7/24/15 at 7:56 a.m.): An edit was made to correctly describe CenturyLink’s match.

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