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According to the US Census Bureau, there are about 46.5 million people, or approximately 15 percent of the population, in poverty. More than

22,000 walkers and runners are preparing to get moving to help eliminate poverty, one step at a time.

On Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, walkers and runners across the country will take to the streets to raise awareness and funds for those in poverty at the national 7th Annual Friends of the Poor Walk/Run, sponsored by the National Council of the US Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP).

All proceeds and donations from the event will directly benefit the people living in poverty in the communities served by SVdP. All funds raised will stay in the communities where they are generated, and there are no administrative fees associated with the event. Anyone interested in learning more, participating, or making a pledge can log on to fopwalk.org.

The event in each community is designed and run by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul chapter in that area, so details such as the date and time will vary by location. A "National Map of Walk Events" tab on the website displays a map showing the various Friends of the Poor Walk/Runs around the country. Most events are held near September 27, the feast day of the SVdP Friends of the Poor Walk/Add One Society's patron, St. Vincent de Paul, who ministered to the poor in Paris in the 17th century.

In 2013, nearly 22,000 participants, representing some 230 locations across the country, raised a total of approximately $2.1 million. Since the event began in 2008, more than $8.8 million has been raised to help those living in poverty.

"While the number of people in need continues to grow, the Friends of the Poor Walk/Run also continues to grow, which helps our members' ability to provide the necessary resources and funds in these challenging times," said Dave Barringer, SVdP's chief executive officer. "In addition to providing immediate help to those in need, the Society is focused on systemic change as a long-term response. We are working to identify the underlying causes of poverty to change attitudes and structures to empower those in poverty to move permanently out of a state of extreme need. Events like the Friends of the Poor Walk/Run help generate the resources to reach that goal."

One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of about 800,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 140 countries on five continents. With the US headquarters in St. Louis, MO, membership in the United States totals more than 150,000 in 4,400 communities.

SVdP offers a variety of programs and services, including: home visits, housing assistance, disaster relief, job training and placement, food pantries, dining halls, clothing, and assistance with transportation and utility costs. The Society works to provide care for the sick, the incarcerated, and the elderly, as well as prescription medicine. In 2013, SVdP provided over $794 million in tangible and in-kind services to those in need, made more than 1.7 million personal visits (homes, hospitals and prisons), and helped more than 11 million people regardless of race, religion, or national origin.

Source: Society of St. Vincent de Paul, svdpusa.org

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