Washington County Rightditarod benefits food pantries

Area food pantries will receive a boost of donations following Saturday’s fourth annual Washington County Rightditarod 2014.

“We are trying new things this year, including a change of venue,” said Cathy Harper, coordinator of the Right Path for Washington County. “We are moving from downtown Marietta to Pike Street.”

This year’s event, which will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, will begin and end in the Food 4 Less parking lot, located at 110 S. Seventh St., unlike the previous years’ events that met up at the parking lot at the corner of Second and Butler streets.

“Instead of going to downtown businesses, we will be going into businesses in that area of Pike Street,” Harper said.

The previous three Rightditarod races had the groups of five or more members going into downtown businesses to collect items, whereas this year’s race will see the teams go into True Value, Wendy’s, Auto Mart, Verizon and Food 4 Less, which is also donating the shopping carts for the event. Heartland of Marietta is donating shopping bags to aid the teams in carrying the items.

The Rightditarod program collects money and food for 11 area food pantries, including the Harvest of Hope, and is deemed the Right Path’s annual “race against hunger.”

During the Rightditarod, teams race shopping carts instead of dog sleds through participating businesses as they wear costumes. The local race is held in conjunction with the Alaskan Iditarod and is loosely based on the dog race that began in 1973.

Teams for the event are encouraged to get monetary donations. Last year’s teams raised almost $25,000 in donations towards the local food pantries’ account with the Marietta Community Foundation.

“We hope to raise as much, or more this year,” Harper said. “We were able to greatly exceed our $10,000 because of a generous $10,000 donation from Dominion Gas and the hard work of our teams to raise more than $14,000 on their own.”

Also new this year is that teams do not have to participate in the race itself, Harper said.

“If a team wants to do the shopping list in just one store, they can,” she said. “They no longer have to go to every location, but we encourage it.”

The goal of the Right Path is to engage youth in positive activities to foster healthy development and get them to feel involved in their community through service. Food drive projects are ongoing through schools and clubs, such as that in Belpre Elementary School.