Midlands CROP Walk planning another record-breaker

COLUMBIA — The 1999 Midlands CROP Walk is planning an Oct. 3 event in its quest to fight hunger. The 21st annual walk will begin at 2:30 p.m. at Finlay Park, with on-site registration beginning at 1:30 p.m. The goal is for 1,500 walkers to participate and to raise $50,000.

Last year’s event brought in $41,800 in pledge money from walkers, easily surpassing the previous high of $31,500 in 1995. Two local churches, St. Peter’s and Transfiguration, raised $1,285.

The Midlands walk ranked 36th nationally among more than 1,900 events in terms of money raised. In 20 years, the walks have raised nearly $424,000 to fight poverty and hunger around the world through CROP’s national affiliate, Church World Service of Elkhart, Ind.

A quarter of that money — more than $100,000 — has stayed in the Columbia area to serve agencies such as Harvest Hope Food Bank and the Oliver Gospel Mission. Last year, Harvest Hope received $6,817, Lexington Interfaith Community Services (LICS), $1,738; Washington Street United Methodist Soup Cellar, $601; Chapin “We Care” Center, $380; Sharing God’s Love in Irmo, $351; Oliver Gospel Mission, $308; and God’s Helping Hands in Cayce, $255.

CROP Walk’s efforts go beyond the borders of Lexington and Richland County. Some of the recent efforts CROP has helped support through Church World Service are refugee relief in Kosovo; continuing relief in Honduras from Hurricane Mitch; flood relief in Texas; food-for-work projects in Indonesia; irrigation projects in India; and famine relief in North Korea.

“With a major natural disaster in Latin America last year (Hurricane Mitch), we’ve seen the devastation that can occur,” said Don Koon, Midlands CROP Walk coordinator, in press information from the organization. “And then we’ve seen what man can do in terms of destruction in war-torn areas such as Kosovo. There are so many needs for refugees. CROP and Church World Service are areas where people can assist those who suffer from war and disasters.

“Hopefully, people being aware of those situations will motivate them to come out and do something to help those less-fortunate people. And they can do that through walking in CROP Walk.”

For more information or to get involved, call Harvest Hope at (803) 765-9181 or visit the Midlands CROP web site at www.midnet.sc.edu/crop. For information from Church World Service about CROP’s efforts in the rest of the world, call (800) 456-1310 or visit CWS’s web site at www.churchworldservice.org.