Originally created 08/30/97

Group walks for art and fun and to build kids' self-esteem



Augusta Urban Ministries and GAP ministries will hold their biggest fund-raiser of the year at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, a joint walkathon.

Part of the proceeds will support two new programs, art lessons and archery, at Augusta Urban Ministries on Hale Street. The inner-city organization also runs a furniture bank and a Christmas toy and food program.

About 150 of the 550 expected participants will be walking for GAP, which has its headquarters at Greene Street Presbyterian Church. The inner-city ministry sponsors a summer camp program and assists with utility bills and rent, said Fran Oliver, interim director.

Last year's walkathon raised about $12,000 for Augusta Urban Ministries and $2,450 for GAP.

Walkers will start at Urban Ministries, 303 Hale St. The sixmile route will travel through Olde Towne this year.

Urban Ministries, begun by area United Methodist churches, is housed in a 70,000-square-foot building once owned by the Murray Biscuit Co. A mural covering the Hale Street facade was painted in 1995.

"The Art Factory was started out of our program. We had a summer camp, and the kids worked with local artists who showed them how to do it," said Rebecca Wallace, Urban Ministries director.

Tables will be set up for walkers to eat inside the building. The Breakfast Optimist Club of Augusta will sell barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, chips, candy and drinks. Activities will include games and face-painting for children.

Any walker who collects at least $15 for Urban Ministries will receive a T-shirt, said Ms. Wallace.

This fall, Urban Ministries will work with the Junior Olympic Archery Development Program, which teaches youth responsibility and self-esteem.

"It sounds like catch phrases, but it really makes a difference in their lives," said Ms. Wallace. Archery works for anyone, boys or girls, skilled athletes or not, she said.

Urban Ministries is also hoping to have the Art Factory on hand to give lessons on Saturdays, starting in the fall.

The furniture bank, which offers free furniture, household fixup material and even pots and pans to clients, will also benefit.

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Augusta Urban Ministries has also received support from other denominations. "We are trying to reach out for other volunteers to help," she said.