OAKVILLE, Mo. – With overdose deaths higher than ever in south St. Louis County and surrounding areas, people gathered at Faith Oakville Church for the Stomp Out Addiction Walk.

The purpose was to raise awareness about overdose deaths, as well as educating and supporting the community. 

All proceeds will benefit PreventEd to help serve this cause.

“PreventEd works to reduce or prevent the harms of alcohol and other drug use. We’ve been around since 1965, and on a typical year, we’ll serve about 100,000 folks in our St. Louis Region,” said Nichole Dawsey, executive director of PreventEd.

The proceeds will allow PreventEd to provide NARCAN, assessments and referrals, fentanyl test strips, and recovery support.

The event began with a celebration service in the church’s worship center.

“We’ve got a shared goal here which is just create awareness of addiction, addiction recovery, and just care and support for people who are impacted by it. I don’t know anybody who’s not, so it’s great that we get to partner with them because they’re the experts in this area,” Pastor Chris Sommer said.

On a wall inside the church, people wrote down who they’re walking for, as well as messages of support. 

Overdose deaths in south St. Louis County are higher than ever; Dawsey said the pandemic exacerbated this problem.

“Since COVID, calls for assessments and referral services have gone up almost 20 percent,” she said. “And our teenagers as well are really struggling, and so calls for our services to assist teens have gone up anywhere from 15% to 20%.”

Pastor Sommer said he hopes to create a space where people feel that it’s okay to talk about these problems, and that it is okay to ask for help.