40-day pledge

During Lent, the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and the Thursday before Easter, many people pledge to “give something up” as a way to grow closer to God during the Lenten season.

Giving up candy, chocolate or soda are among the top choices for Americans, according to a survey by the Polling Institute at Florida’s Saint Leo University.

Fourteen-year-old Maddie Lankford of Marietta is giving her sweet tooth a rest during Lent this year.

“I’m giving up hard candy,” she said. “It’s kind of hard to do because our teachers give out hard candy sometimes. But I’m just saving it up until Easter.”

Emily Tornes, 19, from Lowell and her friend Corey Schilling, 19, are also giving up candy for Lent.

“I do eat a lot of candy, so I’m giving up the sweets,” Schilling said. “It can be difficult, especially when someone offers me candy and I have to tell them why I’m giving it up.”

In addition to eliminating candy during Lent, Tornes is giving up some of her time.

“I’ll volunteer some time and make more time for prayer during Lent,” she said.

A poll of what Twitter users were giving up for Lent during the first week of March, published online by OpenBible.info, had more than 11,700 tweets for giving up school or work which topped the list.

Giving up chocolate came in second and, interestingly, giving up Twitter received the third highest number of tweets.

The more traditional give-ups of swearing, and alcohol rounded out the top five on the OpenBible list.

Alicia Schmidt, 31, is visiting her brother and a newborn nephew in Marietta this week. Following a Catholic tradition she’s giving up meat on Fridays during the Lenten season.

“But I’m also taking more time to read the Bible and do devotionals,” she said. “This is my first time giving up something for Lent. It can be hard. Sometimes I’ll hop into bed and then remember that I haven’t done my reading that day. But then, thanks to my cell phone, I can read my devotionals in bed.”

Shirley Lang, 73, of Waterford said she marks the Lenten season by giving more time to God.

“I just give the Lord more time-keeping him in my thoughts and meditating more often each day,” she said. “We don’t think about him enough during our busy everyday lives.”

The 40 days of Lent are based on the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness by the Israelites as described in the Old Testament, and the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by Satan in the New Testament, according to the Catholic Online web site.