Education remains a key part of addressing skyrocketing rates of opioid addiction and deaths, and dedicating a day for volunteers to spread awareness can be a small but important part of the solution, advocates say.

Thousands of volunteers are expected to participate in Saturday’s Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day, a statewide foot campaign that encourages people to distribute information about safe prescribing and addiction prevention and treatment resources within their communities.

Advocates and concerned residents and professionals distribute information on foot to businesses, health providers, dentist offices and public centers, as well as deliver door hangers to neighborhood homes.

Local events like songwriting contests, candlelight vigils and charity walks also take place the same day to spread messages of prevention and recovery, organizers said.

“Educating our residents and health care providers is a key step in preventing the tragedy of overdose deaths and addiction that has already affected far too many New Jersey families and communities,” Angelo Valente, executive director of Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, said in a statement.

The state Senate passed a joint resolution Sept. 27 that would permanently designate Oct. 6 as a day to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid abuse and its link to heroin addiction, and to educate health care professionals, community leaders, lawmakers and the public about the epidemic.

State data show about 2,194 people have died from drug overdoses in the first nine months of 2018, the majority of them from opioids such as heroin and fentanyl.

More than 10,000 volunteers statewide participated in last year’s Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day, organizers said.

The daylong initiative is coordinated by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey along with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse; the state Department of Human Services; and the Community Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Morris.

For more information on getting involved, see knockoutvolunteers.