This past weekend, Historic Newburgh Inc, sponsored the first Chocolate Walk, an interactive benefit for the Newburgh Area Food Pantry.

People went to participating retailers and if they donated $10, they received a chocolate walk bag with a guide listing all the participating businesses where they could fill up on chocolate.

The businesses that participated in the Chocolate Walk include 2nd Chances, 321 Vintage, Amerie Cleo's Bakery & Brown Bag Lunches, Décor and More, Edgewater Grille, ERA First Advantage Realty, Feather Your Nest, Flutter, Garland Vision, Heart of Newburgh, Honey Vinyl Music Studios, Honeysuckle Finds, Impulse Salon & Spa, Livewell/Upgrade Café, Lucid Coffee, Mulberry Jeans, Pet Food Center, Scatterd Art, The Come Up Shoppe, The Refinery, The Shop at Historic Newburgh, Zen and Venue 328.

Nieva Schapker, real estate agent and owner of Venue 328, the newest merchant in historic Newburgh, was the brains behind the Chocolate Walk.

"You got to remember that as a community supports you being a relator or business owner, it is important to give back to the community," she said.

Schapker said she went to all of the Newburgh merchants to get involved and that 23 out of the 26 or 27 did.

"They embraced the idea without knowing what it entails," she said. "They went along with it, hoping it would bring business to downtown."

And bring business it did.

Jack Fry, a salesperson with the Newburgh Pet Food Center, said the Chocolate Walk brought in a great deal of business for them over the weekend.

"People got two pieces of chocolate each," he said. "We went through four bags of chocolate on Saturday."

Fry said he thought the Pet Food Center decided to participate in the chocolate walk because they wanted more people to become aware of them.

"I think it's because we're pretty small," he said, "so I think it's good to get some recognition."

Schapker said picking the Newburgh Area Food Pantry as the recipient of the funds raised was a no-brainer.

"This organization gets a lot of help from the community during Thanksgiving and Christmas," she said. "But what happens after that?"

Schapker said although she hasn't finished collecting all of the money that was raised she believes the first chocolate walk was very successful.

"I'm hoping to give (the Food Pantry) a nice check or a substantial amount of cash," Schapker said.

Carol Schmidt, the Newburgh Area Food Pantry, director, said she was so excited when she first heard about the Chocolate Walk.

"This Newburgh community and surrounding areas are so involved in helping those in need," she said. "I'm a happy camper."

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