Area walkers can have fun, stay fit and help feed hungry people by participating in the CROP Hunger Walk on Oct. 9.
The event raises funds for local and international charities that work tirelessly to put an end to hunger.
How the CROP Hunger Walk works is simple: Participants collect pledges and the day of the event they walk a route in Fenton that begins and ends in . The Fenton area event is a combined effort among several local churches.
This October marks the 31st year of the CROP Hunger Walk. On average, between 125 and 175 walkers attend. Many participants have been with the event since the beginning. Dave Rayner, a volunteer from has walked for the last 21 years. He was introduced to the event by a friend who was actively involved with the walk. It didn’t take much to convince Rayner to join.
“I have a passion for social justice issues,” he said.
Bruce Coffin has been involved in CROP Walks for 20 years, first in Flint and later in Fenton when he moved to the area.
“It’s been a real positive experience,” he said.
Seventy-five percent of money raised is donated to Church World Service, a ministry that works to wipe out hunger and poverty by developing sustainable food programs around the world. The remaining 25 percent is spread locally among three local organizations: FISH in Linden, St. Vincent de Paul at in Fenton and the School Lunch Program, an outreach of St. Jude’s Episcopal Church.
The Walk will usually raise $10,000 to $15,000 a year, said Coffin. Throughout its 30-year history it has raised $267,000, added Rayner.
By participating, walkers not only donate needed money to fund organizations that help hungry people, but they also bring awareness to the problem of hunger in local communities. Although southern Genesee County and Oakland County often viewed as being relatively affluent, volunteers say that there are hungry people here.
Rayner, who also volunteers with the School Lunch Program at St. Jude’s, has seen that need firsthand. The School Lunch Program provides lunches for children during spring break when school is not in session and they are unable to receive the meal they normally would. Last year, 300 children were served, he said.
The funds also mean a lot to St. Vincent de Paul. Volunteer Fred Sieradzki said the CROP Walk money helps the non-profit organization create Thanksgiving and Easter food baskets for families in need as well as helps families with other food needs.
The organization has been real busy in recent months, but particularly the last two months, he said.
The CROP Hunger Walk route begins and ends in Bush Park and is designed so that participants can walk all of it or smaller portions if they prefer. People of all ages participate, said Rayner, adding that it is fantastic to see youth groups, senior citizens, families and parents pushing strollers walking.
Registration for the Fenton/Lake Fenton/Linden/Holly CROP Hunger Walk begins at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 9. The walk begins at 2 p.m. All interested persons are welcome to register the day of the event as raising money beforehand is not a requirement. There is also no minimum pledge amount to collect. Participants can always collect donations after the event as money will be accepted in the days following, said Rayner.
Those who don’t wish or are unable to walk, but would still like to support the cause are welcome to make a donation during the CROP Walk or they can text CROP to 50555 to make a $10 donation.
For more information, visit www.churchworldservice.org or call Bruce Coffin at (517) 862-1270.
The churches involved include Fenton , Christ Scientist, , Linden Presbyterian Church, , Linden United Methodist Church, , and St. Jude’s Episcopal Church.