Melissa thought that she would participate in the event this year scheduled for May 6 in support of Yad Ezra, the kosher food pantry based in Berkley, as she had in previous years. However, she decided that more hands were needed to do what she really wanted to do.
"Hunger relief is a major problem around here, especially in the city, and I'd like to work to end that," she said. "My Bat Mitzvah theme is hunger relief and this year I thought I could take it to the next level."
- by Timothy Rath
Rocking alternative boosts Mt. Vernon (Ohio) walk
A circle of four people seated in rocking chairs made a jovial centerpiece for this year’s Mount Vernon (Ohio) CROP Hunger Walk on Oct. 16.
While about 100 people took off on foot for the three-mile round trip to a local park, the rockers remained at the starting point on the city’s Public Square, greeting the walkers as they returned.
It may seem a little heretical to take the “walk” out of the CROP Hunger Walk, but it’s all in the spirit of helping the poorest people on the planet.
“There are always those who find three to five miles a long distance to walk, but who want to participate,” said Brian Miller, a member of the committee that organized the walk. “Plus, there was an aspect of fun there that we couldn’t ignore.”
The idea was floated by Nick Kiger, assistant regional director of the CROP/Church World Service office in Columbus, Ohio, during a dinner meeting with Mount Vernon walk organizers at a local restaurant last summer.
Coordinators of the participating churches were handed a flyer explaining the opportunity at an orientation meeting a few weeks before the walk.
The idea caught on at Gay St. United Methodist Church, which for years has been one of most active churches in the walk. Mary Blencowe, a member of the church who is also on the planning committee for the Mt. Vernon walk, said she pushed the idea by putting rocking chairs with signs on them in the church’s parlor.
“We introduced it week after week as an alternative,” she said. “We have had a lot of knee surgeries. We made humorous comments. It was a way of showing solidarity for those needing help.”
Among the four rockers was Gail Lashley. Now 43, she walked as a child, but hasn’t done so for years for health reasons. Since her 10-year-old daughter was walking this year, rocking enabled her to participate, even if not holding her daughter’s hand in the process. “It’s nice to cheer them on and be involved too,” she said. “I would definitely do it again.”
Another participant, Mary Kepple, knitted while she rocked. She said several passersby inquired about how they happened to be sitting in rocking chairs on a Sunday afternoon in Public Square.
“It raised the visibility of the walk,” Kepple said. “Anything that raises visibility helps.”
– by Brian Miller
CROP Hunger Walk goes to prison
On Thursday morning, we entered the medium-security Decatur Correctional Center at 8:30 a.m., and met the chaplain and other "outside" Walkers. We went to the field house where some of the offenders had already gathered. More came in, and the spirit in the room was upbeat!
The chaplain made some introductory remarks, acknowledging that many of the offenders had contributed toward the event from their meager incomes, and how important that was. I spoke, and also the women from the local agency, and then we walked together!
I had many nice exchanges with women as we circled the field house, enjoying the spirited music that was playing. Some shared with me that they have learned in prison what it is to help others, and that they are committed to doing that once they get out. They seemed so appreciate of the opportunity to give to others, and all took it very seriously.
Wow! How appreciative are we, on the "outside", of chances to give?
Altogether, the CROP Hunger Walk raised over $3,100!
– by Julia Jones/CWS
Mayfield CROP Hunger Walk: 'Being the change you want to see.'
Photo: Carol Cownie
For the members of the Mayfield, N.Y., Central Presbyterian Church and others who had seen a tragedy unfolding for several days, there was no question that their commitment to helping the world’s hungry would continue.
Because despite a lightning strike and a resulting fire that destroyed the church building on April 28, Mayfield residents went ahead with a CROP Hunger Walk three days later – a sign of determination that prompted CWS Executive Director and CEO, the Rev. John L. McCullough to attend the May 1 event. “I was so moved by their drive to continue the Walk despite all they have been through this week, I knew I had to come” said McCullough, who rallied walkers before the grounds of the destroyed church.
The Walk had been scheduled to begin at the Presbyterian church, which was built in 1823, though the church’s congregation dates back even earlier to 1792. The charred ruins of the church in the upstate New York community (population 6,400) were in stark contrast to the bright sunny day, but the Walk went ahead from the church lawn.
Earlier in the day, the Rev. Bonnie Orth, the Mayfield church's pastor, told congregants who gathered for a service at the neighboring United Methodist Church “our faith, tested by fire, is renewed.”
Another reason the continued Walk had such poignancy was the community food pantry had been located at the Presbyterian church. Twenty-five percent of the money raised during the Sunday Walk will go to the Mayfield food pantry, which will be relocated elsewhere.
For his part, McCullough commended the residents of Mayfield. "Even in the face of deep personal suffering and loss,” he said, “people understand the imperative to feed the hungry and care for the poor. Mayfield was able to look through their own tears, to focus, and then to embrace the needs of others."
Carol Cownie, who heads missions outreach work at the Mayfield Central Presbyterian Church, said she was also proud of Mayfield and the efforts of CWS supporters. “I am so grateful to live in a community that shares Gandhi's challenge: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’”
Holland/Zeeland CROP Hunger Walk emphasizes local food needs and sense of community
Photo: Tim Staal
The Holland/Zeeland CROP Hunger Walk has a tradition of inviting their walkers to bring along food items for their local food ministries. Mark Tucker, from Community Action House, and his crew load items into Gaylord boxes, then divide the food after the Walk according to each pantries needs. Usually three to four boxes of food are received and meet a big need in this community.
Another enhancement aimed to instill a sense of community in the Walk is a large sign-in banner that each person autographs under their church/organization's name. Seeing the names of 1,000 walkers written on this huge banner reminds people of those they walk alongside in their own community and globally.
Other enhancements to last year’s Walk included the prayer ribbons Walkers created following registration that blow in the wind during the Walk; seed packets given to each Walker, symbolizing the efforts we share culminating in a bountiful harvest for those in need; and a $15.15 per Walker gift by a few donors in recognition of their Walk's 30th Anniversary.
CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by religious groups, businesses, schools and others to raise funds to end hunger at home and around the world.