Friendly challenges among Inland Northwest churches contributed heavily Sunday to a 400-person turnout at an annual charity walk in downtown Spokane.
The Kissinger family of Spokane joined friend Mary Anne Littlemore at the 30th annual CROP Hunger Walk as part of the congregation of Country Homes Christian Church.
Ted Davies accompanied his wife and 10-year-old granddaughter to the event, drawn by the urging of his Colbert Presbyterian Church congregation.
Kathy Routson and her daughter, Susan Levernier, walked as part of a group from Covenant Christian Church.
Just before the stream of walkers set off for Riverfront Park, the Rev. Nancy Goodwin of Millwood Community Presbyterian Church offered a prayer, asking God to “help us be mindful as we’re huffing and puffing and moving along … that people are suffering.”
Three-quarters of the money raised is channeled to needy people around the world through Church World Service and the Interfaith Council of the Inland Northwest. Among the causes: building schools in the Congo, digging drinking water wells in Darfur, helping children in Mozambique develop leadership and job skills, helping people in Serbia start small businesses, and continuing to repair homes devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The remaining quarter stays in Spokane, divided among four nonprofits: Second Harvest Inland Northwest, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Spokane, Mid-City Concerns Meals on Wheels and Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels. Last year each organization received $2,211 from the walk.
Spokane walkers raised more than $35,000 in 2007 and have raised $576,675 since 1979. CROP Walk board member Sylvia Barney said Spokane is in the top 5 percent of funds raised among the 2,000 communities nationwide that hold CROP walks. CROP stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty.
Preliminary estimates placed the amount raised locally this year at $24,301, but CROP Walk committee member Elisa Pupo said contributions will continue to flow in for two months.
“This heightens the public’s awareness of the problem,” Barney said.
“We’re fortunate we can walk for pleasure while much of the rest of the world walks to live.”
The line of walkers was readily visible as it stretched from the starting point at Gonzaga University to Riverfront Park. With sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, the park was bustling.
Some walkers, like Ted Davies, were drawn to participate for the first time in part because of food price inflation. “We hope the money gets where it’s supposed to go,” Davies said.
“It’s a well-organized program that’s been going for several years.”