Charity walk: taking steps to end hunger, poverty

By Jordan Hearne

Participants in a 5K walk through Waco will be taking steps to end world hunger at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The Heart of Texas CROP Hunger Walk is one of many such walks sponsored by Church World Service, an organization that uses money collected at community events across the nation to end hunger.

Participants make donations at registration on the day of the walk that will be distributed in a 75 percent global to 25 percent local ratio.

Kevin Murphy, program assistant for the Texas CWS Region Office, said the global funds will go through Church World Service to support its work in 40 countries around the world.

“The money will go to things like nutritional packets in times of disaster,” Murphy said. “It will help support small micro-development projects and provide funds for people to plant crops.”

This year’s local donation recipient is Caritas of Waco, a program that provides McLennan County area residents with food, clothes and lodging in case of an emergency.

Buddy Edwards, director of Caritas, said the money received from the CROP Hunger Walk is not only helpful to the organization, but is especially necessary now.

The organization has had an increasing demand for assistance over the past few months.

“With the large quantities of clients, we have to purchase large amounts of food ourselves, so it’s very likely that we would be able to use some of those funds for food acquisitions as well as emergency assistance,” Edwards said.

Caritas also provides help to families whose utility services are about to be cut off because they are unable to pay; however, the increase in demand has made it difficult to continue providing this kind of additional assistance, said Edwards.

“This year, there just aren’t enough funds,” Edwards said.

The walk will begin at Bledsoe Miller Park and will continue across Herring Bridge and down University Parks Drive before looping back to the starting point.

For people not up to walking the full 5K, which is 3.1 miles, a one-mile route option ends before Herring Bridge.

Katie Cook is the chair of the steering committee for the Heart of Texas CROP Hunger Walk and she also works for Seeds of Hope Publishers, a company that produces resources for congregations regarding various hunger relief programs.

Cook said she learned about Church World Service through her work with Seeds of Hope Publishers.

“We let people know who really are the best hunger relief agencies, and CWS is one of them,” Cook said.

“They make good use of their funds, they’re dependable and they work with indigenous groups in other countries. They are not building buildings with the money— it goes right to relief,” she continued.

Registration for the race will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at Bledsoe Miller Park, and participants can donate the suggested $25, although any amount will be appreciated, Cook said.

Though Cook freely admits the importance of these projects to her, she is unable to give a precise definition of just what it is she does for the CROP Walk.

“My unofficial title is ‘CROP Walk Momma.’ Almost everything I do has to do with making sure people get food that they need,” Cook said.

Cook said that the hunger walks originally began in Waco about 20 years ago, but then stopped for a short time before beginning again 10 years later.

Last year, the walk raised over $4,000 with only eight participants, some of whom were sponsored. Cook hopes for a larger crowd on Sunday.