Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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Racing towards a brighter future: Community unites for annual Feed Your Neighbor 5K 

Libby Phelps
Micah Cherry runs through the start line during the Feed Your Neighbor 5K that was held by the Neighborhood Co-op Grocery at Turley Park April 12, 2024 in Carbondale, Illinois. | @libbyphelpsphotography

The Carbondale community came together once again for the annual Feed Your Neighbor 5K, held on Friday, April 12 at Turley Park. Organized by the Neighborhood Co-op, the event attracted participants to support the mission of the Good Samaritan House.


All proceeds from the race will support the House, which provides a food pantry, soup kitchen, emergency shelter, transitional housing, and emergency assistance to those who need the support. Participants were also asked to bring non-perishable food items on race day.



Francis Murphy, general manager of the Neighborhood Co-op, said, “We started the event in 2000 as part of a weekend-long celebration of our 15th anniversary, so Friday’s event is the 25th 5K that we have sponsored. Originally, we called it the Nutrition Run/Walk, and we held it in March which is national nutrition month. We got tired of uncertain weather in March so we moved it to April and changed the name to Feed Your Neighbor as it has always been a fundraiser for Good Sam.”


He believes the event has the potential to raise awareness about the growing problem of homelessness in Carbondale.


“We’re really lucky to have Good Samaritan as a resource for the unhoused community, and hopefully it just helps everyone understand that this is a community problem that we can all try to help with,” Murphy said. 



Events like this one help the Co-Op reach out to community members and ask for assistance in bettering the community and organizations that need it the most.


Allison Hyland, brand manager of the Co-Op, said, “As a cooperative, one of our founding principles is ‘concern for community’. Every year, the Co-op chooses a number of nonprofits and community causes or organizations to donate a portion of our profits in various ways, and we are proud to be able to make a positive impact in our community.”

The number of people applying for assistance at Good Samaritan House has been increasing, reflecting the growing need within the community for essential services like food, shelter, and emergency help. As more individuals and families face economic hardships, the demand for donations and support for the organization has risen accordingly.

Patty Mullen, the executive director of Good Samaritan House, said, “A lot more people have been using a food pantry to the point where the shelves are so empty. I mean, I’ve worked there 20 years and I’ve never seen them like this.”


People in Carbondale need their services across all programs, not just with the food pantry, but also with the soup kitchen and residential programs.


“We’re receiving a lot more people from the community coming down to get meals to go, and more people are coming in for our residential programs, because they can’t stay in their homes because they can’t afford the villas. Then, in our assistance program, we pay people’s rent and utilities to make sure that they don’t lose it,” Mullen said. 


Many participants feel that this event serves as a means to extend the impact of community support. They see it as an opportunity to broaden the outreach of assistance programs like those offered by Good Samaritan House, ensuring that more individuals in need can benefit from the resources and services provided.

Jill Hennassty, a racer at the event, said, “I think there’s a huge need in our community. I’m actually a social worker, I work with the elderly and people with disabilities. So, I think that sometimes it’s a more prevalent need than people even realize.”

Twins, Patty Mullen (left) and Sue Mullen (right) go through donations that were donated by runners for the Good Samaritan House of Carbondale during the Feed Your Neighbor 5K at Turley Park April 12, 2024 in Carbondale, Illinois. | @libbyphelpsphotography

When individuals are marginalized or disregarded, the collective effort to tackle local challenges becomes significantly hindered.


“There are people that don’t necessarily fit a certain type of look or demographic that are in need, so I think even small events like this, raise some money, and they also raise awareness,” Hannassty said.


Racers also expressed a sense of fulfillment in knowing that their participation in an event that was enjoyable directly contributed to helping those in need within the community.


Murphy said, “Organizations like Good Sam always need as much as they can get in terms of contributions, right. So we’re hoping to at least get several hundred dollars to them as we sell through this event. But beyond that…I’m digging the weather, because we’ve had this event sometimes when it’s been bitter cold or really hot, and this is like the perfect night. It’s nice for people to get out and go for a run. And it builds community as well.”


It was essential to get the community engaged and involved to ensure that the broader community was aware of the challenges faced by their neighbors and have an opportunity for collective action.


Hennassty said, “I think that social media presence is so important. That’s how I knew about it even though I live on the street. I think it is being easily accessed by people in new areas, and they can stop by to participate.”


For some participants, this was their first time racing and engaging with the organizations. 


Micah Cherry, first place finisher of the race, said, “This is the first time I’ve ever done this race, I heard that this event was a thing, I’ve been in Carbondale for like my whole life, but I’ve never done it.”


He felt that this event was a great way to not only fundraise for the cause, but also instill hope in the community.


“I think it helps us to unify over something that brings hope to our community. I believe in sharing hope in many ways. I’m a Christian, so I share my faith and I also really believe in sharing practical things and helping people out,” Cherry said.


In addition to the race itself, the event provided entertainment and activities for children, including coloring pages and bubbles, to keep them engaged while waiting. Live music added to the festive atmosphere, creating a lively ambiance for participants and spectators alike. Attendees had the chance to mingle, meet new acquaintances, and catch up with family and friends, fostering a sense of community throughout the event.


The race was also professionally timed by Southern Illinois Racing, and was a certified course providing participants with confidence in the accuracy of the distance covered and the legitimacy of their achievements.


Cherry said, “I just think the environment is really cool. It’s also really cool that Southern Illinois Racing is helping with it and giving us our official time. Music is awesome. I’ll definitely be doing it again next year.”


The Co-op aims to increase participation from both SIU students and community members next year; however, there are steps that can be taken to further the organization’s goals in the meantime.


Mullen said, “If you want to help out a nonprofit, especially one that helps your community, reach out to that nonprofit and find out you can coordinate a fundraiser because to do a food drive is relatively easy. People want to donate and we always need donations.”


Neighborhood Co-op Grocery will also be accepting monetary donations made on the event signup page for those who wish to make a contribution. Those donations will be given directly to Good Samaritan House after the event.


Visit the Good Samaritan House website to get more information on how to help.


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