SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – In previous years, people have come from all over to take part in the annual Walk for Humanity fundraising event set for Saturday in downtown Shreveport and in Baton Rouge. But the 5K run/walk to raise money for international programs in Africa through the Institute of Global Outreach will once again be virtual this year.

Since the pandemic hit, the Walk for Humanity has gone virtual and will be again this year. Kirksey-Tarver said when they were planning the walk this year, the Omicron variant was rampant so they decided to keep it virtual, and also because they feel it would be the best way to raise money.

“Whether the walk is physical or virtual we are still able to raise the funds to help children in Africa,” said Walk for Humanity organizer Velma Kirksey-Tarver.

“All of our programs benefit people who are suffering, whether they are children who are in preschool who need a meal to eat so they can even concentrate in school or the sponsored children who need clothing and school supplies, or college students who have been afforded scholarships tet they don’t have the money to buy the simple things like pens or pencils. Or mainly food, along with sanitary items for the women who are there in school and the women who are most vulnerable.

Kirksey-Tarver is an advocate for women and children in Ethiopia, where she travels each year to help deliver supplies and meet with the families supported by the outreach program, which also supports orphans who have lost their parents to HIV or suffer from the disease themselves. She said people in Louisiana can truly make a difference in their lives.

“The difference now is that instead of having the large walk where we have several hundred people together walking, we’re asking that our participants walk virtually. Means, you can walk from home, you can walk from school, from wherever you are. Just to get out and walk in remembrance of the work we’re doing to help support the children and families in Ethiopia.”

With the virtual walk, just take a photo or video of yourself walking and use #VirtualWalkforHumanity on social posts.

Kirksey-Tarver also asks participants to wear the fundraiser t-shirt on the day of the event to represent the Walk for Humanity.

While you’re walking, she says, know that the people you’re helping are walking too. An Ethiopian community holds its own Walk for Humanity to show how much they appreciate the support.

This year will mark the 12th year for the Walk for Humanity. The virtual event takes place Saturday, April 9 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you’re not on social media, you can send your photos to IGOCARES@gmail.com

Donations, including check and money orders, can also be sent to the Institute for Global Outreach, located at 1024 Pierre Avenue in Shreveport. You can also call their office at (318) 425-3351.