The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday March 21st

CROP walk fundraises to fight hunger

Participants kick off the IFC Crop Walk through Carrboro and Chapel Hill.
Buy Photos Participants kick off the IFC Crop Walk through Carrboro and Chapel Hill.

“The reason why we choose to get involved is because unlike lots of problems in the community, this solution is simple,” said Nelson, the president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce. “The cure for hunger is food.”

Religious groups, businesses and schools organize CROP walks to raise funds to end hunger in the U.S. and internationally.

The walk in Chapel Hill stretches four miles and begins and ends at Carrboro Town Commons. This year, it will be held on April 19 along the streets of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and through the UNC campus. Walkers also have the option of a one-mile fun run and a two-mile walk.

Church World Service, a cooperative ministry of 37 Christian denominations and communions, sponsors these walks. The organization provides sustainable self-help, development, disaster relief and refugee assistance around the world.

Mary Catherine Hinds, national community event strategist for Church World Service, said the CROP Hunger Walk was the first original “walkathon” in the U.S.

“Folks saw what great they could do and how fun it was and it began to spread,” she said.

Hinds said in 1987, the first Chapel Hill CROP walk raised almost $13,000. Chapel Hill’s walk is now ranked 25th nationally out of 1,300 walks across the U.S.

“The Chapel Hill CROP Walk has been a pace setter,” Hinds said. “We’re at the front of the pack — using social media before anyone ever knew about it and engaging a broad community about hunger.”

She said the Chapel Hill walk has raised almost $1.3 million since its inception.

The walk benefits the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, a Carrboro-based nonprofit that helps individuals and families in the area meet basic needs and achieve goals.

Kristin Lavergne, community services director for the IFC, said the nonprofit is promoting the event through its website and various congregations.

“The nice thing about the walk is that anyone can participate,” Lavergne said. “They can come with their families or their youth group — we have people of all ages.”

Of the money raised, 25 percent goes to support the IFC’s food programs in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, while 75 percent goes to hunger programs, refugees, disaster relief and self-help projects in more than 80 countries.

“We get sponsorships that cover all of the costs of putting on the walk,” Lavergne said. “100 percent of the proceeds during the walk are going toward helping hunger across the world.”

Hinds said that she asks people to sponsor themselves, or have their friends and family sponsor one another.

“We’re also just raising awareness,” Hinds said.

“We’re helping wherever the need is the greatest — eliminating hunger and poverty in the most vulnerable places in the world.”


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