Jeff Moose of Taylorsville expects many people to stop him as he walks from Manteo to Murphy over two months beginning on Easter Sunday – a trek of about 545 miles from the coast to the mountains.
They won’t approach him because they know him, he said, but because of the neon orange and green shirts he’ll wear that say, “Ask me WHY.”
“Walking for homeless youth,” he’ll tell them.
“You’re not going to miss me coming down the road,” Moose said, referring to the shirts.
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Moose, 54, has a lifelong love of the outdoors instilled by his parents.
He came up with the idea for the walk after reading a news article about the number of homeless children in America. “It kind of started weighing on my heart,” he said.
He also came upon a homeless couple living in woods behind the Hickory Walmart. The woman was pregnant, and he worried for the child’s future, he said. “Jeff, you need to do something about this,” he recalled telling himself.
He hopes to raise at least $10,000 through his walk for A Child’s Place of Charlotte. He admires the agency’s work with homeless children in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. “I was impressed with their stewardship,” Moose said.
Moose is unemployed, which allows him to take so long a trip, he said. He has degrees in business management and environmental studies but can’t find work in the fields.
He spent the past six months arranging housing for his walk across the state, including homes, churches, motels, B&B’s and campgrounds.
He spent about $100 on walking gear at Fleet Feet Sports in Hickory and walked out with about $400 worth of items thanks to the store’s generosity, he said.
Food Lion stores on his route are giving him $25 gift certificates, $450 total.
Others donated fuel for his camping stove and gasoline to get to Manteo and then, after he completes his walk on May 28, from Murphy to Taylorsville.
“It has been a remarkable and humbling journey,” Moose said of planning the trip and finding so many people willing to help. “There’s a lot of good left in people.”
Susan Hansell, executive director of A Child’s Place, said that goes for Moose, too.
“We’re so grateful to Jeff for his time and efforts in making this incredible journey across our state on behalf of A Child’s Place,” she said. “While this isn’t our first fundraising event with a physical activity, the distance and time Jeff plans to travel goes above and beyond anything we’ve seen before.
“We believe that his walk and commitment will inspire people across North Carolina to do all we can to make a positive difference in the lives of children and families experiencing the chaos of a homeless crisis,” Hansell said.