In 1995, more than 270 people took to the streets of Lowell for the community’s very first CROP Walk. The participants – ranging from toddlers to seniors – made their way on a route that covered more than six miles. Through the event, they raised more than $12,000 to fight hunger both locally and abroad.
This Sunday, a mix of new and old participants will set out on the 25th annual Lowell CROP Hunger Walk. They will have a significantly shorter distance to cover though – only five kilometers. That distance is a testament to the success of efforts to banish hunger and thirst worldwide.
“[The distance] is based on how far people walk to get to water,” explains Paul Benjamin, coordinator for the Lowell CROP Hunger Walk.
During the very first CROP Walk, held in North Dakota in 1969, participants had to traverse ten miles. That represented the average distance those in developing countries needed to walk for water. Over time, that distance dropped to six miles and now to five kilometers. Organizers would love to see the distance drop even farther as more people gain access to clean water and nourishing food.
Annual Event Raises Millions to End Hunger
The Lowell CROP Hunger Walk is one of more than 800 events held nationwide. Overseen by Church World Services, the walks raised more than $8.3 million in 2018. While 75% of that money goes to international hunger relief efforts – this year, the organization is focusing on Indonesia – the remaining 25% stay in the local community. Of the money raised in Lowell, 20% will go to FROM and 5% will be sent to Senior Neighbors.
While local churches often heavily participate in CROP Walks, Benjamin stresses that the event is open to anyone. “It’s not a religious thing,” he says. “It’s not a church thing.”
And even though raising money is an important aspect of CROP Hunger Walks, Benjamin doesn’t want anyone to let that stop them from participating. “It’s more about getting together and walking,” he says. Even those who haven’t raised any money or who can’t make a donation are invited to join in the event
Details of the the 2019 Lowell CROP Walk
The 2019 Lowell CROP Hunger Walk will take place this Sunday, May 5, at 1:30pm. Participants will meet at the Lowell United Methodist Church on E. Main Street and are invited to gather at 1pm for a small potluck meal beforehand. Registrations will be collected at that time as well.
At 1:30pm, walkers will set out on their choice of routes. The main 5K route will wind through city streets while a shorter 1K route will be available for those who don’t think they can make the full distance. For those who would prefer to walk in the woods, maps to the Wittenbach Center will be passed out as well. There is no designated route there, and people can choose whichever trail they like. Benjamin notes that the center building it closed on Sundays so walkers only have access to the trails.
Those who would like to fundraise before the walk or who want additional information can visit the Lowell CROP Hunger Walk webpage. An anonymous donor is matching up to $250 raised by area youth groups, such as church and scouting groups or 4-H clubs.