CROP Walk raises thousands to feed hungry

Mar. 17, 2013 @ 08:16 PM

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Hundreds of humans and dozens of dogs took big steps Sunday to raise money for international and local hunger relief at the annual Durham CROP Hunger Walk.

Walkers gathered in front of Duke Chapel, and began their 4.8-mile walk-a-thon to East Campus, through the Walltown neighborhood and back to West Campus.

When Durham Mayor Bill Bell gave the go-ahead, dozens of teens bolted to lead the procession on its first leg along Chapel Drive.

Initial estimates were that about 700 walkers participated at the 39th annual walk. Organizers hoped this year’s event would generate at least the $150,000 raised last year, but exact figures were unavailable Sunday.

One walker, 17-year-old Cameron McNeill of Durham, said this was his third year at the walk. He was with his family and dog, Banks.

“I think this is a good opportunity to help the less fortunate here and around the world,” he said. “It’s great, and provides good interaction.”

Joy Kerner of Durham joined other members of her church, First Presbyterian in Durham, and her dog, Lyla, for her third CROP Walk.

“I like the community feel, doing something good for the hungry, and the fellowship,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll meet some new friends today that I’ll end up walking with.”

Judd Staples, 42, brought his two sons and their golden retriever, 3-year-old Annabelle, for their first walk. They planned to run at least the first three miles.

“I wanted to join in with our congregation [Westminster Presbyterian Church] and help a great cause,” he said. “I like getting to know other folks in the community and knowing that you’re doing a great thing for people who aren’t as well off.”

Sunday’s walk was the fifth for Mike Neil of Durham, who came with fellow members of Mt. Sylvan United Methodist Church.

“I think this is a good way, especially for our youth, to think about other parts of the world and what they have to go through,” he said. “It’s a little sacrifice for us, compared to what some people have to go through to overcome hunger and get water.”

Last year, $37,000 of the money raised went to local hunger relief groups. The rest went to international hunger aid.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina has benefitted from CROP Walk money, with each $1 providing $10 worth of food. Its Durham branch serves six counties – Durham, Orange, Granville, Chatham, Person and Vance. Last year, Durham distributed 5.8 million pounds of food.

Other Durham CROP Walk recipients are the Society of St. Andrew, a national hunger relief nonprofit whose North Carolina office is in Durham; Changing a Generation Outreach; Genesis Home; Housing for New Hope; Interfaith Hospitality Network; Meals on Wheels; and Urban Ministries of Durham.