“Lend a hand before you lose one.” This may be the tongue-in-cheek slogan of the seventh annual Downtown Phoenix Zombie Walk, but this year more than ever, organizers are urging zombie enthusiasts to think seriously about hunger in Arizona. “One in four children go to bed hungry every night and it’s something we need to combat,” said Jerry Brown, director of media relations for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. “Arizona has a real hunger problem.” That’s why Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DPI), which organizes Zombie Walk each year, formed a partnership with St. Mary’s five years ago. As a free, family-friendly event with thousands in attendance, organizers quickly realized its potential as a vehicle for change. In 2014, downtown Zombie Walkers donated 1,200 pounds of food to St. Mary’s Food Bank and this year Sara Anderson, director of events at DPI, said she hopes to make Zombie Walk 7 the most charitable event yet. “There’s other zombie walks around the nation that are really focused on the number of zombies that attend their festivals — we are not so focused on the number of heads,” she said. “This year we’re trying to establish the idea that we’re the most charitable zombies.”
Cash donations stretch the furthest and each dollar equals seven meals going into the community. (Photo: St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance)
As always, the Zombification Zone will be providing zombie makeovers but this year, in conjunction with Goodwill Arizona, five canned goods or $5 will get you hair, makeup and clothing — everything you need for the zombie apocalypse. Even for those with their own makeup and costume, non-perishable food items and cash donations are greatly encouraged. Collections go toward St. Mary’s Emergency Food Boxes, which provide enough to feed a family of four for four days. These boxes are not designed to be a lone food source but often supplement Arizona’s working poor, according to Brown, who may not be able to stretch their funds through the entire month. Emergency Food Boxes also help out the elderly and the homeless. Ideal items to bring are nutritious things like fruits and veggies, peanut butter, canned meats and other high-protein items like beans and legumes, boxes of cereal, and meals in a can like soup and SpaghettiOs. But cash donations stretch the furthest, according to Brown. Each dollar equals seven meals going into the community. In a addition to a food drive, this is a big fundraising opportunity for St. Mary’s, and a way to reach a group of people they don’t normally get to. “Many of these large-scale zombie events are able to marry what people are interested in and like to do with doing something good for the community,” he said. “I think it’s a wonderful concept.” All donations are appreciated but Brown encourages people to stay away from glass and low-nutrient items like candy, chips or ramen noodles. Zombie Walk 7 starts at 2 p.m. inside Heritage and Science Park on Saturday, Oct. 24. With live music all day, kids zone, beer gardens, costume contest and the main attraction — a 1.5-mile Zombie Walk through the heart of Downtown Phoenix — this event truly bridges entertainment with community building.