By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA — In what may have been one of the largest CROP Hunger Walks locally, dozens turned out to raise both awareness and funds to help the hungry here and around the world.
The annual CROP Hunger Walk was held in Ravena on May 8 with walkers gathering at Mosher Park and taking a two-hour walk with stops at the Veterans Memorial on Main Street, Senior Projects of Ravena, St. Patrick’s Church and Congregational Christian Church for prayer and reflection on the challenges faced by people in need globally and around the corner.
“Twenty-five percent of the funds come back to the local area,” the Rev. Antonio Booth from Riverview Missionary Baptist Church said. “It comes to the RCS Association of Churches and we distribute it to the various food pantries. We try to raise as much as we can.”
The annual CROP Hunger Walk — CROP is an acronym for Christian Rural Overseas Program — is held in municipalities around the country and is sponsored by the international group, Church World Service.
The first CROP Hunger Walk was held in 1970 in York County, Pennsylvania, according to the Church World Service website. Similar walks began cropping up in communities around the country, and currently over 1,300 walks are held each year across the United States, according to the website.
One-quarter of each CROP Hunger Walk stays in the host community to fund food pantries and other hunger-fighting programs, and the remaining funds support programs operated by Church World Service that provide food and water globally, and resources that empower individuals to support themselves.
“Those organizations do more than give out food – they also help people learn how to establish businesses — small micro-businesses — so they learn to feed themselves,” Booth said. “It’s not good enough just to give money for food – that is not sustainable – so that is why we help in these other ways, too.”
Dozens of local walkers gathered at the pavilion in Mosher Park before setting out on the walk, some carrying signs created by volunteers from RCS High School promoting the cause of local food pantries that will benefit from the walk and help people in need.
Walker Lillie Tibbs, a congregant at Riverview Missionary Baptist Church, said she wants to help those who need a helping hand.
“I do this to support people who are hungry, and for the Lord,” Tibbs said.
Melanie Collins from the food pantry at Trinity United Methodist Church said there are several reasons she participated in this year’s CROP Hunger Walk.
“I am walking because so many people around the world have to walk in order to get their food and water, and I am walking to support the local food pantries and programs in our community, and because there is good fellowship here,” Collins said.
Yvonne Hughes, from Riverview Missionary Baptist Church, was walking with 7-year-old Christopher Brown to help the cause.
“I am walking for hunger — people are hungry and we are looking to raise money for the CROP Walk and to stop hunger,” Hughes said.
Karen Hoops, also a congregant at Riverview Missionary Baptist Church, said awareness needs to be raised about the importance of providing adequate nutrition to all.
“I want people to know about hunger,” Hoops said. “It is an important issue locally and around the world.”
Betty Suiter-Graham walked with several family members who all wanted to support the cause.
“Proceeds go to feeding the hungry and to help fight against hunger,” Suiter-Graham said. “We are participating to do as much as we possibly can to help.”