The Waynesboro community walked together in Ridgeview Park Sunday to combat hunger locally, and support others in need.
The Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty (CROP) Hunger Walk began as an annual event in the United States 50 years ago, and has operated in Waynesboro for 44 years. Sponsored by Church World Service (CWS), an interdenominational, U.S.-based organization focused on service, the walk raises awareness of hunger on a local and global scale while supporting a mission to combat it.
“More than 400 million children are food insecure,” said Roberta Macauley, community engagement manager for Church World Service in North Carolina and parts of Virginia. “More than 700 million people are living on a dollar and 25 cents a day. One in nine people around the world don’t have enough to eat. Right here in the U.S., in the richest country in the world, 14% of U.S. households are food insecure.”
Numbers like this are a sobering reminder of the importance of action to help community members in need.
“Those numbers represent a human being. Those numbers represent an individual,” added Macauley.
Close to 200 joined this year’s three-mile CROP Walk in Waynesboro on Sunday. Approximately 20 different church congregations of various denominations were represented, said Jan Tobias, who serves on the CROP steering committee. With Waynesboro Mayor Terry Short, City Manager Mike Hamp and Councilwoman Elzena Anderson carrying a CROP Walk banner and leading the way, participants of all ages made their way along the route through town.
“As you walk today, know that there are boys and girls, and women and men in this community and all around the world whose lives will be transformed because you’re walking,” Macauley said to participants. “Thank you for the steps that you will take. Thank you for being a reflection of God’s love and God’s mercy. Thank you so much for praying with your feet today.”
The funds raised by the CROP Walk, which are donation-based, are distributed throughout both the local community and among CWS projects in other countries, said Macauley. Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the Waynesboro walk go directly to four local partner organizations fighting hunger: Blue Ridge Area Community Food Bank, Meals on Wheels program, Disciples’ Kitchen and the Waynesboro Salvation Army.
“This community is helping to ensure that families who are food insecure have what they need, and they are giving hope to so many families here,” Macauley said.
The remaining 75% of funds raised are dedicated to CWS’s global mission projects, which center largely around sustainability, development, and humanitarian relief projects in nearly 35 countries.
“We are building water systems to provide access to clean water for families,” Macauley said. “We are providing seeds and tools for farmers so they’re able to diversify their gardens and grow more food for their families. We are educating women and girls.”
The Waynesboro CROP Hunger Walk is a tradition for many local residents and organizations.
“It’s important to recognize that food scarcity is an issue in this area, as well as other parts of the world,” said Laura Riggan, who was walking with the Humanitarian Universalist Fellowship of Waynesboro. “I think it’s also a wonderful opportunity to join in an interdenominational effort to address some of the needs of our community.”
Laurie Lafferty of Main Street Methodist Church in Waynesboro said her family has participated in the CROP Walk since her children joined the church’s youth group.
“We’re still walking,” said Lafferty. “Hunger’s one of my favorite causes.”
Macauley thanked Sunday’s participants.
“We are continuing in our mission to transform lives around the world, and we thank you for being a part of that effort,” she said.