By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Compassion ruled at the North Andover Middle School track on Saturday, as about 130 people of various ages walked to raise money to help the Society of St. Vincent de Paul feed the hungry.
Jessica Connors, 44, and her daughter Faith, 14, started the walk at 9 a.m. and were still going strong two hours later. Faith, a freshman at Central Catholic High School, is required to do a community service project before receiving the sacrament of confirmation.
“I thought this would be the best thing to do because it helps those who are less fortunate,” Faith said. Also, she’s an athlete who plays volleyball and basketball and she liked the idea of doing something that involved physical activity.
“It’s a great cause,” said Charlene White, 52, of Haverhill, who did the walk with her granddaughter Shaelynn Carey, 8, of Methuen. White said she is fortunate that she has a good job with the state Department of Transportation.
Many people, she noted, are struggling to survive and some don’t even have jobs.
Robert Norbedo, 71, said the walk was a great way to “get money to help poor and needy people.” This was his sixth year of doing the walk, he said. He said he expected to do five miles – 10,000 steps.
Norbedo was accompanied by his friend Jerry Bateman, who is 68 but “I feel like 58,” Bateman said.
Both men pointed out there are many North Andover residents who are facing hard times – even though the town appears to be quite wealthy, with its many large houses.
“You can’t just sit home and read a book or watch the game while people need help,” said Bateman, who volunteers at Cor Unum, a church-affiliated program in Lawrence that provides meals for hungry people.
Larry Earley, 68, of Methuen, and his daughter Erin Earley, 30, set a brisk pace as they walked around the track.
“To help the poor so they can survive,” Larry Earley said when asked why he was doing the walk.
Erin teaches toddlers at the Head Start program in Haverhill. She said she wanted to help people who are “less fortunate that I am.”
Noting that the children she teachers are from lower-income families, she said she hopes efforts like the Walk for the Poor will “help them in their future.”
Joseph Contrada, coordinator of this year’s walk, said it was too soon to tell how much money was raised Saturday.