THE Aisling Irish Community Center in Yonkers is running a Slim-a-Thon to raise money for its Irish Volunteers for the Homeless outreach project over the course of Lent.

The Slim-a-Thon, in its second year, was such a huge success last year that the center decided to give it another try, and 31 men and women have signed up for the challenge.

Volunteers for the Homeless go out in rain, hail or shine every Monday night to feed the city’s homeless, and funds are always needed to continue the service.

Orla Doherty, executive director of the Aisling Irish Center told the Irish Voice while the center receives food donations from Food Ireland and other local restaurants and businesses, “the cost of running the homeless program each year exceeds $10,000 so we hope we can raise at least half of that amount.”

Two Slim-a-Thon volunteers, Tom Reid and Tom Woodlock, agreed to allow the Irish Voice to follow their progress as they shed pounds and raise dollars for the challenge.

Reid, 35, from Buncrana, Co. Donegal and living in Yonkers, told the Irish Voice he started the South Beach diet last year and lost over 30 pounds, but as time when on he put some of the weight back on. He is determined this time to lose more weight and stick to a plan.

Reid, weighing in at 236 at a scheduled weigh in at Rory Dolan’s on Tuesday, February 16, said, “When I heard about the Slim-a-Thon I knew this was just the motivation I needed to get back to the gym and increase my weight loss while helping to raise funds for a very worthy cause.”

During the weeks of the Slim-a-Thon Reid plans to up to 20 pounds.

“I am hoping to lose 20 pounds or more but I won't stop until I am down to 185 pounds.”

Reid will continue to follow the South Beach diet as a way to lose the weight.

As the challenge requires participants to raise money per pound lost, Reid says so far he only has a $15 per pound guarantee, but he plans to get a lot more pledges from people.

“I have reached out to friends on Facebook as well as all of my co-workers. I also plan on asking my employer to make a donation,” he said optimistically.

Another participant, Tom Woodlock of Thurles, Co. Tipperary and now living in Yonkers, has also agreed to undertake the challenge

“I really needed something to motivate me to reduce my ever expanding belly so this was the perfect challenge,” Woodlock tells the Irish Voice.

Woodlock, 39, like Reid, plans to continue to lose additional weight when the challenge, which finishes on Wednesday, March 31, is complete.

“I hope to keep going after the challenge and eventually lose between 50 and 60 pounds,” said Woodlock, who tipped the scales at 293 pounds.

In order to complete the Slim-a-Thon, Woodlock will give up potatoes, bread, chips, chocolate and cookies.

“The hardest part so far was leaving a birthday party last Saturday because I was over my points total,” said Woodlock, referring to the Weight Watchers plan he is following.

Woodlock, who works as a bartender in Yonkers, said he would be asking his regular customers in the coming weeks for donations.

“I’m doing this for the Volunteers for the Homeless and the Aisling Center because the center is the life soul and fabric of our community, always there to help, and we would all be lost without it,” he says.

Woodlock’s motto for his diet? “Who knew carrots and celery was as good as Kentucky Fried Chicken! I mean who knew!” he laughed.

The final weigh out will take place on Wednesday, March 31 at the Aisling Irish Center between 4-7 p.m.