Albuquerque teen hikes 50 miles to raise money for local food pantry

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque teen has made it her mission to feed thousands — literally one step at a time. With every step, a meal is supplied for a person in need.

“We just are going to keep on going until we can’t,” Izabel Thomas said.

“Izzy had a mission in her heart. She was curious to see how she could help. She walked — and how simple is that?” Swarupa Watlington, executive director of The Storehouse, said

Last week, Albuquerque Academy grad Izabel Thomas hiked 50 miles in two days. It was all part of a continued effort to raise money for the state’s largest food pantry, The Storehouse.

“So, 50 miles is really hard. I ended up hiking from Tijeras to Madrid. From there I did like, the bosque and it ended up being a 2,000 foot elevation gain,” Thomas said. “I knew I wanted to do more for The Storehouse, and I’ve also had people close to me go to The Storehouse who it’s really helped.”

This is the third year the 19-year-old hiked to raise money for The Storehouse. This year, she raised more than $5,000, funding about 15,000 meals.

“Not only is there an increase in the amount of food that they’re getting — there’s also a nice variety of fruits, vegetables, meats and different kinds of dairy that we can give to them,” Watlington said.

Thomas says every year the hike is a mental and physical challenge. She says thinking of the families she’s helping motivates her to press on.

“I’ve had points where it feels like sort of a breaking point where I feel like I can’t keep going, and I don’t think I would keep going if it wasn’t for this fundraiser that I want to do it for others,” she said.

Storehouse officials say anyone can follow her lead, and find their own unique way to help the community. “One person really does make a big difference,” Watlington said.

Thomas has raised more than $15,000 in three years. That’s enough for 75,000 meals. She now attends the University of Kentucky where she runs the campus food pantry.

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