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Hundreds walk to fight hunger in Durham community, on campus

Nicholas Thomas of Durham said an empathy for those who don’t have enough to eat prompted him to bring his mother, Stephanie, to the Durham Crop Walk on Sunday.
Nicholas Thomas of Durham said an empathy for those who don’t have enough to eat prompted him to bring his mother, Stephanie, to the Durham Crop Walk on Sunday. DAN WAY

They came out of abundance – of compassion, energy and resources – to fulfill spiritual and civic desires.

A multi-hued army of hundreds marching five miles Sunday to raise money to reduce hunger in their community, their nation, and in other parts of the world.

The theme of this year’s Durham Crop Hunger Walk – Neighbors Feeding Neighbors – “showcases how we are collectively and compassionately working together to address a critical need in our community,” N.C. Central University Interim Chancellor Johnson Akinleye told the marchers before they took off.

Community service is “inherent in the culture of our institution,” Akinleye said.

The university is working through a federal grant to identify food deserts where residents lack access to nutritional foods, and NCCU visual communications major Mia Little designed the T-shirt worn by this year’s walkers.

Ruby Messick represented NCCU and Russell Memorial CME Church on Alston Avenue while pushing her granddaughter, Ivory Taylor, in a stroller.

“We have hunger all over the world. We definitely have it here; we have it on campuses,” said Messick, assistant director of NCCU’s Office of Community Engagement and Service.

“We opened up a (food) pantry on our campus because there’s homelessness even among our students,” she said. “And even (among) the staff.”

Karalyn Colopy was walking with a group of Unicorn Daisies of Girl Scout Troop 1806 of Durham. Sometimes they stopped to read the handmade posters about hunger posted along the route.

“We’re trying to learn a little bit more about the world, and its problems, and the girls brought some food to donate to the Lions Club food drive,” Colopy said.

“I brought some tomatoes in a can,” said 6-year-old Katherine Payton, who felt like it was her duty to help the hungry, “because I want them to have food.”

Nicholas Thomas, a 10-year-old who attends Duke School, had similar thoughts.

He said he only understands hunger as missing a meal when an airplane flight is delayed, not like those who go days on end without enough to eat.

“It would not be fun,” Nicholas said.

Abdullah Albayati of Iraq and Anees Ahmad of Pakistan, both refugees relocated here through Church World Service, said they were grateful for Durham welcoming them. They said they fled their home countries penniless and in danger.

Part of the money raised Sunday will help them and other refugees who resettle here.

Another newcomer to Durham, Jennifer Ingold Asbill, moved here just a week ago. She walked Sunday with husband Seth Asbill, daughter Lucy, 5, and son Teddy, 3, as part of the Duke Memorial United Methodist Church contingent.

“A lot of times we might feel like (hunger) doesn’t affect people who are close to us, that it seems more like a global international kind of an issue,” she said. “But it absolutely will affect people who will attend my children’s schools, people who might even be in my own congregation.”

Ingold Asbill found the Durham community generous when looking for sponsors.

“(They) were excited to know that our family was participating and trying to make the world a better place,” she said.