A crowd crosses Washington Street during the 1Mile Matters Walk. The walk ended at the 1Rocks-1Matters concert at Erie Street Market hall to raise money and awareness of the homeless.
Concern about the "unhoused" -- a term that includes the homeless -- united several hundred people who gathered in downtown Toledo Sunday to walk from Promenade Park to the Erie Street Market.
"We can't walk a mile in their shoes but we can walk a mile in their socks," said Antoirnette Burns, 37, a peer mentor at Owens Community College who had a couple of her students along.
They carried their shoes while walking in their socks, a reference to one of the goals of this year's 1 Mile Matters Walk: to buy about 3,000 pairs of socks for the homeless this winter.
Walkers brought socks or collected pledges from donors.
Richard Langford, medical coordinator of 1Matters Project Connect Tent City, said, "A lot of the homeless population walk a lot. They have no transportation. A lot of them have socks with holes, or no socks at all."
Ken Leslie, one of the organizers of the event, said this was the second year for the walk, but the first year that it was held three weeks in advance of Tent City, an annual event at Civic Center Mall during which donated clothing, food, and supplies are distributed to people living on the streets. Free medical and dental care are offered as well. The event will be Oct. 28-30.
Mr. Leslie said the date was selected to show support for World Homeless Day and to create awareness of Tent City. Other plans for Tent City are to help the unhoused obtain state identification cards and birth certificates.
The mile-long walk slightly zigzagged through the south end of downtown. Sheriff's deputies led the parade and stopped cars when the parade crossed Erie Street.
Jim O’Fahey cheers on the walkers who articipated in what is one of several large events downtown this month to aid the homeless. Among them is the annual Tent City, scheduled for Oct. 28-30.
University of Toledo sophomore Andrew O'Donnel, 20, of Miamisburg, Ohio, took members of his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and Lambda Sigma honor society, and fellow residents of his dorm, the Crossings, dressed in one-piece zip-up pajamas. The roughly two dozen students line-danced before the walk.
"Most of us went out and bought onesies, and just wore them for fun, just to make it a little interesting," Mr. O'Donnel said. "Everybody matters," he said. "It just sucks thinking about people that are unhoused having to live in shelters and having to go somewhere to get food because they can't provide it for themselves, especially with big families. That's just terrible to think about."
He said he's hoping to expand UT's involvement next year by getting the other Greek organizations on campus to participate with the goal of raising more money.
Mr. Leslie said about 15 percent of the unhoused are chronically homeless. The rest face temporary housing loss and live in a shelter, a car, outdoors, or double up with others.
This year's "mayor" of Tent City for the first time will be a family -- James Davis, 38, his wife, Michelle, 36, and their son and daughter, of Oregon.
Haley Haase, 16, carries a sign in the 1 Mile Matters Walk. The mile-long walk, which drew many young people Sunday, went through the south end of downtown.
"It is very, very difficult as a provider to see that your family is getting relocated out of your home and into a shelter," Mr. Davis said.
Mr. Leslie said the experience of the children, Jim, 11, and Alisa, 7, prompted them to organize efforts to donate gifts for Christmas to homeless children.
The 1Walks-1Rocks-1Matters events included the opening of a photo exhibit at 20 North Gallery on St. Clair Street near Fifth Third Field.
The show is from the collection of photographs shot over the years by rock music photographer-tour manager Harry Sandler.
He is donating all proceeds to 1Matters, and gallery owner Eric Hillenbrand is donating his commissions, Mr. Leslie said.
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