Left Justified: 25 years walking against hunger

Stanley Campbell

By Stanley Campbell

I know you are just itchin’ to stretch those legs again. This Sunday, Oct. 16, the 25th Rockford Area CROP Hunger Walk will step off. It raises money for Church World Service (CWS), one of the best (in my humble opinion) international aid groups. The walk returns 25 percent of the take to the local food pantries.

For 25 years, Rockford has hosted CROP Hunger Walk and raised more than $550,000 for Church World Service hunger relief. Twenty-five percent of that returned to local hunger relief.

This year, it is hoped that 400 people can raise $50,000 to help local hunger programs and overseas relief. You can pick up a sponsor record at JustGoods fair trade store, 201 Seventh St., or from any of the 44 congregations and groups that participate.

When Rockford Urban Ministries hired me in 1985, the Rev. Todd Singley suggested walking from downtown Court Street United Methodist Church out to Christ United Methodist Church (Alpine and Highcrest). We raised $5,000, and gave it all to the Urban Ministries’ Committee on Relief.

It was more successful than the local CWS effort, so the Rev. David Foxgrover, then pastor at Fisher Chapel, Rockford College, asked if the next year he could combine with our walk.

David and students were “gleaning the fields” (it’s in the Bible). They would climb through harvested fields of corn, rain or shine (mostly rain), and take their gleanings and give the proceeds to CWS. The most they’d raise was about $2,500.

Now, donations are raised through cash sponsorships raised by the walkers themselves, based upon completion of a 4-mile walk (there is a 1-mile for us oldsters). And money goes around the world to help, not only in emergencies, but for long-term developmental aid.

The CROP Walk begins with registration at 1 p.m. and a 2 p.m. step-off from the Riverfront Museum Park, 711 N. Main St. It is hoped that 400 people can raise $50,000 to help local hunger programs and overseas relief.

I know you’re thinking this is “just one more walk,” and you’d be correct, except it does have a rich history in this community.

CROP stands for “Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty,” and was started here in the Midwest right after World War II by farmers as a way to share their crops with Europe.

You can just show up and make a donation. Church World Service is celebrating its 65th year of operation. Founded in 1946, Church World Service is the relief, development, and refugee assistance ministry of 35 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican denominations in the United States. Working in partnership with interfaith organizations in some 80 countries, Church World Service meets human needs and fosters self-reliance for all whose life is hard. They have a great record of putting the most money raised directly into their programs.

Meanwhile, 60 communities across the Chicago/Northern Illinois area will help stomp out hunger in their annual CROP walks, including Rockford’s. Participants expect to raise hunger issues and more than $800,000 for food and resources to hungry people in their own communities and around the world. Hope you can help!

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Oct. 12-18, 2011, issue

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