April 30, 2007 in City

Walkers raise awareness, money for the hungry

By The Spokesman-Review
 
J. Bart Rayniak photo

About 200 people took part in the Spokane CROP Hunger Walk on Sunday.
(Full-size photo)

Fast facts

•The walk has been taking place in Spokane since 1979

•This year, walkers raised more than $25,000

For the price of an iPod, a family in Asia could buy a water buffalo.

The money people spend on a cup of gourmet coffee could be used to buy seeds for struggling farmers.

A family of five displaced by a disaster could buy blankets for the same price as a video game.

Signs with statements like those reminded walkers Sunday afternoon why they were at Gonzaga University’s Martin Centre preparing to walk two kilometers or 10 kilometers.

About 200 people participated in the annual Spokane CROP Hunger Walk, raising money to help feed poor people in Spokane and around the world.

“Fighting hunger is a big focus of mine,” said Diane Bisson, a member of the Unity Church of Truth on Spokane’s South Hill.

Bisson conducts monthly bake sales at Sacred Heart Medical Center to contribute money to the Second Harvest food bank.

CROP stands for Christian Rural Overseas Program, although one-quarter of the money stays in the communities where it is raised.

In Spokane it will benefit the Second Harvest food bank, local meals on wheels efforts and the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Spokane, which helps homeless people transition into stable housing.

Other money is sent to places like Pakistan, where it might help rebuild communities destroyed by earthquakes, or help AIDS patients in Africa, said CROP Walk Regional Director Lynn Magnuson.

The walk has been taking place in Spokane since 1979.

“The need keeps lasting,” explained CROP Walk steering committee member Bonnie Churchwell.

Walkers raised more than $25,000 this year.

They’ve beaten tracks to collect more than half a million dollars since the walk’s local inception.

About 50 different Spokane and Cheney churches participate in the walk by contributing walkers, money or both.

“We are helping people who have no food,” said 11-year-old Jesse Lonchar. He saw the event advertised at Arby’s and wanted to walk.

Before the multitude headed out on the Centennial Trail on Sunday, it was entertained by The Voiceless, a choir of homeless and previously homeless people.

Bagpipers and two young, red-headed Irish dancers also performed.

The two dancing girls displayed huge grins as they held arms and spun around, each supporting the other.

After all, that’s what the CROP walk is all about: extending a hand to those in need.

“What you walk today, they have to do just to get clean water,” said Magnuson.

“We really mean it when we say that we walk because they walk.”


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