CROP Walk raises awareness for hunger

A group of people and dogs came out and enjoyed sunny skies as they helped to raise awareness and funds for one purpose — worldwide and local hunger issues.
“Hunger is one of the biggest problems that the world faces today,” the Rev. Becky Sunday, of St. Paul United Church of Christ, said prior to the he seventh annual CROP Hunger Walk held in Wapakoneta on Sunday afternoon.
Community members from several local churches came together for the two-mile walk through historical downtown.
“This is a great way for the community to come together and help support those in the world who need it most,” Sunday said.
This was Sunday’s second year participating in the Wapakoneta walk, but she said she has participated in the walk in other communities, too.
“Anything we can do to bring attention to worldwide and local hunger is a good thing,” Sunday said. “This benefits people all around the world and especially benefits people here.”
More than 1,600 CROP Hunger Walks take place each year. CROP, which stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty, is one of the largest fundraising events of Church World Service.
The CROP Hunger Walk was brought to Wapakoneta in 2005 by the late Rev. Tom Roberts, former pastor of St. Marks Lutheran Church. When Roberts died, Darrel Acker was asked to take over the walk.
“We have a nicer day than yesterday,” Acker said, of the sunny skies on Sunday. “We hold this event to raise funds to overcome poverty and help feed people and help them to feed themselves.”
He said there were 58 walkers who came out and walked during the event.
Twenty-five percent of the money raised during the local walk will be divided between God’s Storehouse and Mercy Unlimited and 75 percent will go to Church World Service.
Church World Service is a non-denominational international organization who provide immediate relief after disasters and work to cause long-term change, where people are to provide for themselves.
Acker said that it is important to recognize local needs, because the local food pantries are meeting increasing needs in the economic difficult times we are in.
During the walk, participants walked around Wapakoneta, and had the opportunity to tour the Mercy Unlimited Food Pantry and God’s Storehouse.
During the tour at Mercy Unlimited, Food Pantry Manager Glenna Bair showed off the new walk in freezer and cooler, in which the community helped funded.
“The coolers help to keep things on hand when families come in,” Bair told those on the tour.
Bair said the pantry has served approximately 480 people during the month of August and 330 people during the month of September of this year.
The money raised from the CROP Hunger Walk goes toward what the food pantry needs at the time.
“I think this is a good thing,” Bair said. “It’s good for us and other countries. To bring water to a community that doesn’t have water and help with whatever they need is a really good thing.”
The next stop on the walk was a tour at God’s Storehouse, where Carol Berg gave a tour of their thrift shop and food pantry.
Berg said the food available at their pantry is either donated or they are items that she will buy locally to stock the shelves.
This was the first year for the Rev. Ray Long of St. Johns Lutheran Church to participate in the walk.
“We heard this was helping folks and it was something we could do with our family and other people,” Long said during the walk. “It is important to raise awareness. I like helping out locally and it’s nice to know we can impact people from far away, too.”