For hikers along the 22-hundred mile Appalachian trail, the Perry County community of Duncannon has long been a hiker-friendly place where they can rest up and re-group. And now, thanks to volunteers at Christ Lutheran Church in Duncannon, there’s another reason to feel welcome.
“When you are on the trail, you learn to crave anything fresh,” said one hiker, happily filling his plate with water mellon and berries.
“We try to make the hikers feel welcome,” said church volunteer Darlene Johnson. “We give them carbs and salads. Then desserts. Things they can build their energy on.”
Through July these tasty meals will be available to all hikers, every Wednesday evening, After only three weeks, word about the free meals is apparently spreading quickly along the trail.
A retired chemical engineer from Greenville, South Carolina, offering his trail name “Mex B,” said this kind of help for weary hikers is very much appreciated.
“The first thing I saw when I came into town was the sign saying free food for hikers,” he said. “And, we hikers tend to respond to that.”
A world map and national map mounted over cork allowed the visitors to mark their home towns with a marker pin. Already, there are pins in South Africa and Russia.
Many of the hikers are retired, just out of school or between jobs. But one visitor from Boston said he has an airliner cockpit waiting for him when he gets off the trail.
“I’m usually flying at about five or six hundred mph,” he noted with a grin. “But lately, I’m walking at two to two-and-a half mph.”
Those preparing and serving the meals say they enjoy getting to know the hikers and, by offering the good food and fellowship, they’re simply putting their faith to work.
“I think a lot of people are experiencing this as a real blessing,” said Pastor Beth Martini. “I think it’s a way of sharing God’s love.”
Watching a couple of hikers leave with smiles and full stomachs, Johnson added: “Doing this makes us feel really good about helping out in our community.”