By VANESSA McCRAY, firstname.lastname@example.org
TRAVERSE CITY — A local walk to stamp out hunger marks its 30th anniversary on Sunday.
Traverse City's 2010 CROP Hunger Walk starts with registration at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center. Walkers meet at the pavilion and begin the 10-kilometer walk about 2 p.m. The walk winds its way through downtown, stopping at local churches for respite and refreshments.
Walkers seek sponsorships for their participation. Last year, the Traverse City event raised more than $20,000, and organizers hoped to increase that amount by 10 percent this year. Eight local food pantries share 25 percent of the funds. The rest of the money raised goes to Church World Service, a partnership of Christian denominations that works to end hunger, or to the service organization of the donor's choice.
"I think it's useful. It's a way of collecting money, and that money goes to help people that are needy," said BJ. Harmon, a member of Central United Methodist Church who has participated in the walk seven or eight times. "It's just one of the many opportunities that you have here in Traverse City of supporting those causes." Harmon said fellow Kiwanis Club and church members often contribute to his walk. He usually raises several hundred dollars for the cause.
The Traverse City event attracted about 200 walkers last year, and similar walks are held all across the United States. The first CROP walks held by Church World Service were 20 miles long to reflect the distance people in needy nations had to travel to obtain necessities.
The Traverse City route is just over six miles. Those who cannot walk that distance can still participate as a "CROP rocker." Grace Episcopal Church plans to put out rocking chairs for members of its prayer shawl ministry to sit in during the event.
"They will sit and rock and pray while they knit their prayer shawls. They have gathered pledges while they CROP rock," said Ann Hackett, of Grace Episcopal.
Other rest stops on the walk loop include Central United Methodist and St. Francis Catholic Church, said Pat Batta, who helped organize the event through Central United Methodist. Batta said people can still donate to the effort and can register to walk at the event. The walk begins with a lap around the civic center led by the St. Francis High School marching band.