Darla Gonzalez wanted the second year of the Love Walk to be bigger and better.

Chances are she will get her wish.

Last year they had about 100 walkers and while right now there are only 50 who have preregistered, Gonzalez, who works for Mountain View Lutheran Church in Ahwatukee Foothills, believes that number will jump quite a bit on the day of the walk.

Anyone can come and register for the Love Walk, which takes place at the Phoenix Zoo on Saturday, March 3. Proceeds from the event will benefit Hand of Hope, the Phoenix Dream Center, and Chaplaincy for the Homeless. Last year, the funds collected from registration only went to the Dream Center, which helps homeless, abused, and impoverished individual families in Phoenix.

Registration for the event is $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 3-17. Walkers can receive $5 off the registration fee if they bring in a pair of shoes or a hygiene product to donate.

These donated items will go toward the Chaplaincy for the Homeless, which has a goal to help homeless people, among other things, obtain their birth certificate in order to apply for jobs.

“The long-term focus of the Love Walk is not just to raise money for Hand of Hope and the Dream Center, it’s really about matching people up with causes they are passionate about,” Gonzalez said. “It’s grown big. If all of these nonprofits bring their following, who knows how big it can grow.”

On the volunteer front they have already well exceeded expectations. Right now they have 71 volunteers, 37 of which came from the Social Work Student Organization at Arizona State University. As for walkers, Gonzalez has a goal to double the total from last year.

“Many of these organizations do not have administration costs and marketing and everything they bring in goes to their projects,” she said. “Every day it seems like another organization has been added to it.”

While the proceeds will be split equally between the Dream Center and Hand of Hope, other nonprofits will be on hand at the Love Walk to spread awareness about their specific causes.

Hand of Hope is an international organization that has a hand in feeding impoverished people worldwide. In 2009, they prepared 23.8 million meals and served 55,000 children a day at 364 sites across the globe.

For $12, the Chaplaincy for the Homeless can purchase an Arizona ID for a single person. In addition, they put together hygiene kits to help a homeless person clean up for a job interview. Gonzalez said they are unique to the Valley.

“It’s a really important thing they do just because they are the only people that are doing it,” she said.

There will also be several raffles and all of the funds raised from tickets will go to the Chaplaincy for the Homeless so they can purchase more IDs.

The Love Walk is cosponsored by the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization Gonzalez founded, A Servant Heart, and the local community action group, Connecting to Serve. Walkers can register at 7 a.m. on Saturday, and the walk ends at 9 a.m. To find out more, visit www.lovewalkrevolution.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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