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CROP Walk participants sample others' struggles

October 13, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Lugging a heavy bucket of water around Fairgrounds Park during Sunday's CROP Hunger Walk, 14-year-old Zach Fawaz gained a new appreciation for a task that millions of people around the world face each day.

"We did it for just one lap, but people have to do it for miles," said Fawaz, a sophomore at St. Maria Goretti High School. "I feel very bad for them."

Organizers of the fundraising walk said they hoped carrying a bucket of water or a five-pound sack of rice would help participants appreciate the effort that goes into obtaining food and water in much of the world. In Asia and Africa, women walk an average of 3.7 miles to collect water each day, according to a fact sheet from Church World Service, an international relief organization benefited by the walk.

The event, organized locally by the Hagerstown Area Religious Council, drew more than 300 participants Sunday, said Jane Drawbaugh, the event's coordinator.

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Money raised by walkers also will benefit local food pantries, with a quarter of the proceeds split between food pantries at the Grace United Methodist, Trinity Lutheran and Seventh-Day Adventist churches in Hagerstown, Drawbaugh said.

The number of people served by these pantries has risen drastically as the economy has worsened, with many families seeking help who have never had to do so before, Drawbaugh said.

Despite the tough times, walk participants said collecting donations was only as difficult as asking for them.

Phyllis Batt, 67, of Hagerstown, said she raised $1,620 by going door to door in her neighborhood, beginning in July. When her neighbors heard about the event, they gave what they could, she said.

Bob Regenold, 81, a former pastor at First Christian Church, was the event's top fundraiser, collecting more than $4,000.

"Even this year, I found many (donors) are more generous than they were last year," Regenold said. "They know it's a very worthwhile cause."

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